There are calls to ban Katie Hopkins from visiting Swindon to perform her new show.
Campaigners want Swindon Borough Council to step in and stop the controversial figure – who has previously made purportedly racist comments – from being able to hold the event at the MECA on 1 November.
Swindon Stand Up To Racism and Swindon Solidarity have come together in a bid to stop Hopkins’ visit – and prevent her comedy show Infectious from going ahead.
In a joint letter by the groups, a spokesperson said: “We are astounded that Swindon Borough Council, whose cabinet is set to approve that Swindon join the City/Borough of Sanctuary network are allowing this event to take place in a building it owns.
“Swindon are in the top five cities and towns in the South West for taking refugees. Surely allowing this racist and divisive woman to appear goes against the cabinet’s proposal to ask members to affirm the Authority’s’ commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers?”
They added: “Katie Hopkins is far from welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers.”
What’s on website Devizine called on people to boycott the MECA for hosting the event.
In a post on social media, it said: “In the light of Meca Swindon hosting a Katie Hopkins evening we will no longer list their events.
“We will not entertain or promote hate speech and racism, and we suggest you boycott the venue until such a time it is cancelled.”
In response, MECA said it is committed to allowing everybody a place on its stage.
A spokesperson said: “We are aware of the dialogue surrounding our decision to host controversial comedian, Katie Hopkins and felt now was an appropriate time to speak in response.
“MECA has always been and continues to be proud to play host to many multicultural and inclusive events, of which several are organised by, and for, members of minority communities throughout the town.
“As a venue, whilst we do not agree with or condone many of the statements Katie has made in the past, we firmly believe that everyone has the right to a place on our stage.
“The event in question is not a hate rally as it is being portrayed by some. It is a comedy show, reviews of which state that Katie pokes more fun at herself than anything else and we do not have concerns that the event will be anything other than the comedy show that has been promised.
“To limit those able to perform here because they may have opposing views and opinions to us would do a great disservice to the community. In the past we have played host to many controversial figures and comedians without issue and, as a venue, are not willing to play into the harmful cancel culture of recent years.”
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