THE organiser of a huge Pride event has accused council staff of homophobia after posters promoting the event were pulled down.

Betty Gallacher is chairman of Bourne Out LGBT, which is organising Eastbourne Pride tomorrow.

Last week she decided to place 20 posters around the town promoting the event.

But she says 12 hours later, a member of staff from East Sussex County Council demanded they be taken down.

Ms Gallacher refused and the council removed them.

She now says: “I can smell homophobia all over this one.

“Why? Because posters put in the same place promoting a fun fair had been there for three weeks.

“Why did the council allow those posters to stay up but demanded mine come down immediately.

“When the council worker called she was rude and aggressive. I am appalled.”

Ms Gallacher expects more than 3,000 visitors to be at Eastbourne Pride, on Princes Park.

She said: “All we were trying to do was raise awareness of what we are doing on Saturday.

“We have made great inroads in recent years to raise awareness of the LGBT community locally.

“Why should we be told we can’t have posters up when the fun fair organisers are allowed?

“Just because our event is for the LGBT community doesn’t mean that we should be treated as second class citizens.”

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council Highways defended the action.

He said: “Where signs can be placed depends on a number of factors but we do not allow them to be attached to safety railings under any circumstances as this could affect visibility and safety of pedestrians crossing the road.

“We did contact the organisers of the event to give them the opportunity to move their signs from the safety railings, which is not something we would usually do, but were left with no option but to remove them ourselves.

“We would be more than happy to discuss directly with the organisers of Eastbourne Pride alternative locations where the signs can be posted.”

Ms Gallacher said that Pride is “a win win for Eastbourne.”

She added: “People will come in to the town from afar and they will book hotel rooms and they will spend money here.

“There are still issues for some people coming out as LGBT, and this is something we can help with.”