Wiltshire Police has issued a statement after protests and counter-protests took place at a Drag Queen Story Hour show in Swindon

The event took place on Sunday, February 4, and saw families bring their children to the Wyvern Theatre for an afternoon of story-based entertainment led by a drag queen. 

But around them, a small group of members from far-right group Patriotic Alternative protested against the event while a much larger group, organised by Swindon and Wiltshire Pride, gathered to 'drown out the hate'. 

Officers from Wiltshire Police were deployed to keep the two opposing groups separate, and the force released a statement afterwards to confirm that while mostly peaceful there was one small moment they had to interject.

It said: "Wiltshire Police officers took part in a pre-planned deployment outside the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon today (February 4) in anticipation of a demonstration and counter-protest.

"The theatre was the venue for a national touring event, the Drag Queen Story Hour."

Chief Inspector Al Lumley said: “I’m pleased to say that both groups engaged with officers well and overall the event passed without any issues. The vast majority of those taking part in the demonstrations did so peacefully.

“There was a minor disorder when some people from one of the groups tried to move towards another and officers briefly intervened to prevent a breach of the peace.

“This was an isolated incident in an otherwise peaceful demonstration by both groups and I’m pleased to say that there were no reported injuries or arrests at the scene.”

This is the second time the Wyvern has hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour event and the second time a protest and counter-protest has taken place, taking over Theatre Square. 

A spokesperson for Swindon and Wiltshire Pride commented: "Today, Swindon & Wiltshire Pride hosted its second Drag Queen Story Hour with Aida H Dee. These events are organised to create a fun and engaging story hour, featuring children's stories that promote acceptance and kindness.

"Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, a far-right group of anti-drag queen protestors gathered outside the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, where the Drag Queen Story Hour was taking place.

"However, I'm proud to report that they were massively outnumbered by a group of 50+ counter-protesters who brought along music to drown out the hate. Their presence helped create a safe environment for families attending the event.

"Despite the challenges, the sold-out event went exceptionally well, and as organisers are eagerly looking forward to hosting another Drag Queen Story Hour."

They added that in 2024 it was "disheartening we still have to fight for acceptance and rights".