Protestor denies homophobic slurs at Tate Britain drag queen story-telling event featuring Aida H Dee
A man accused of shouting abuse at a Tate Britain drag queen story-telling event allegedly told the audience including children: “Gay men dressed as women are paedophiles”, a court has heard.
Lance O’Connor, 53, is accused of disrupting the Drag Queen Story Hour UK hosted by Aida H Dee at the famous gallery on February 11.
A protest was taking place outside against the event, and O’Connor is said to have been one of four demonstrators who managed to get inside.
At Westminster magistrates court, prosecutor Frances McCormack said O’Connor is accused of “homophobic hate crimes”.
“He said ‘gay people dressed as women are paedophiles’ and ‘You are indoctrinating children into paedophilia’”, she said.
“The defendant attended at the Tate Britain during a time when drag queen Aida H Dee, a published and recognised author, was giving a reading.
“The event involved them reading children’s stories. It was a reading session for children and adults to attend, conducted by the guest speaker.
“The defendant was one of three or four people who attended to disrupt that event.
“The comments the defendant said, the Crown submits, amount to homophobic hate crimes.”
O’Connor refused to enter not guilty pleas, instead repeating “no case to answer” and denied making the alleged comments.
“I never said them words”, he said, adding: “CCTV footage will show I wasn’t offensive and I wasn’t aggressive.
“He (Mr Rowan) showed no signs of distress or alarm whatsoever.”
Ms McCormack said Tate Britain operations director Matthew Rowan will be among the witnesses, giving evidence that he found the alleged incident “intimidating and distressing”.
Magistrate adjourned the case for a trial at City of London magistrates court on April 17, with O’Connor, of Plaistow, east London, banned from attending the Tate Britain under the terms of his bail.
During the hearing, he made an unsuccessful attempt to force the magistrates to confirm their judicial oaths.
At the end of proceedings, he insisted he should have a right to trial by jury for the offences, which can only be heard under law by magistrates.
At one stage, one of the magistrates told O’Connor to “dial down the anger”, and the defendant replied: “I am certainly trying to be respectful, this is how I talk, I have a loud voice.”
O’Connor denies two public order offences.