Arenas hosting the UK leg of Roger Waters’ controversial tour have come under mounting pressure to call off the shows.
Venues could be leaving themselves open to legal action if the Pink Floyd musician “stirs up religious hatred” on their premises, lawyers have claimed.
Waters, 79, will play a string of shows in Britain, at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham, Ovo Hydro in Glasgow, O2 in London and the AO Arena in Manchester.
He is currently under investigation by German police after donning an SS-style uniform on stage in Berlin last month, but did not wear this outfit on stage last night in Birmingham, where he kicked off his UK tour.
However, the International Legal Forum (ILF), a network of lawyers and activists, has written to the Birmingham, London and Manchester venues urging them to “consider cancelling” the gigs in light of Waters’ “offensive display” abroad.
Such a display could breach UK law, it warned, citing the 1986 Public Order Act, and the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which deems it a criminal offence “to stir up religious hatred”.
The letter stated: “Whilst we firmly believe in the power of artists to express their freedom and to push boundaries of art, they do not have carte blanche to incite religious or racial hatred, and distort the Holocaust, including the systematic annihilation of six million Jews.”
It follows appeals from other organisations to cancel the shows. Ahead of Waters’ first UK gig, members of Birmingham City Council wrote to the NEC Group, which owns the arena at which he performed this week, to express their concerns.
Anne Kennedy, head of Birmingham Lord Mayor's office, said cabinet members had urged the firm’s chief executive to ensure Waters’ Nazi-inspired outfits were not used. The NEC Group did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, a petition launched by the Campaign Against Antisemitism calling upon venues to refuse to host the tour has amassed thousands of signatures.
"Artistic freedom does not justify hate," the petition states.
Representatives for Waters did not respond to a request for comment.