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Published: 1 February 2008
Rising intolerance must be tackled from the top

• AT the council meeting on November 7 I presented the following petition which had been signed by hundreds of people:
“The centre of the City of Westminster is the very heart of London.
“The centre of the city comprises West End ward, the ward I represent and St James ward.
“It is the place that most people in the world recognise as London and the place that all but a tiny minority of the 18 million tourists come to when they visit London.
“We are a diverse community. The gay community participates fully and happily for the most part without prejudice across our industry, especially in the entertainment, ­creative and fashion industries, but also in all the others and we all live happily together in our village neighbourhoods in the West End and St James’s.
“Part of Soho in ­particular has become one of the greatest ­centres for gay clubs, bars and restaurants in the world. In the evenings and weekends gay people and straight people can be seen thronging the area ­centered around Old Compton Street, all enjoying the variety of bars, clubs and restaurants.
“We can be truly proud of the simple fact that all this goes on in total harmony and that no one need be afraid to show their feelings in public or feel embarrassment and it has happened without any outside or government or local government interference or encouragement.
“It has just happened as a natural social and economic development totally integrated with the local community.
“Complaints by the local community about late-night noise relate to the licensed premises and customers and have nothing to do with sexual preference but relate to noise and ­rowdy behaviour.
“But intolerance has once again begun to raise its ugly, vicious and dangerous head in various parts of the world and here in the UK.
“The City of Westminster now has a responsibility to speak out when it sees this intolerance directed against the gay community wherever it occurs, be it in our own country or abroad.
“Some of the places where this intolerance is practised have embassies in the City of Westminster and we can go and talk to the ambassadors concerned and tell them of our views.
“In one case of extreme intolerance where a man with the most revolting views about gay people is concerned we can make our views known to the Mayor of London who has invited him to London as his guest.”
When I presented my petition I called on councillors to debate the issues of intolerance, violence and hatred toward gay people and made it clear to them that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable in our world today and that they should cease and desist from stoking the fires of hatred for any reason.
So far the debate has not been scheduled, and I am growing increasingly concerned by this.
I believe that we have a right and a duty not to do nothing, but to speak out and say to those concerned that intolerance and hatred towards gay people is simply not acceptable in our world today.
If you agree with me then may I ask you to write to the councillors of the City of Westminster and ask them to act and to speak out.
If we do nothing intolerance will grow and then it won’t just affect gay people.
All it needs for evil to grow is for a few good men to do ­nothing.
Councillor IAN G WILDER
West End Ward
City of Westminster

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, West End Extra, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to letters@westendextra.co.uk. The deadline for letters is midday Wednesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number.
Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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