London Marks 50th Anniversary of Pride Parade

LONDON — The streets of London were filled with color on Saturday as the U.K. capital marked 50 years of Pride.

An enthusiastic crowd of many thousands came out to watch or take part in the celebrations. It was a spectacular display of glitter, sequins and rainbow flags.

After two years of cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic, the parade came a half-century after London’s first march to celebrate Pride in 1972.

Saturday’s procession took on a similar route to the original, starting outside Hyde Park and touring the streets towards Westminster. A concert was planned for Trafalgar Square.

Chris Joell-Deshields, the director of organizers Pride in London, said “momentous” rights and freedoms had been earned since the inaugural event, “but there is more to be done”.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan hailed a “beautiful day” of “unity, visibility, equality and solidarity” as he joined in the celebrations.

Participation was anticipated by more than 600 LGBTQ groups. The march was led from 1972 by Gay Liberation Front members.

Representatives were present from universities, charities and emergency services.

But uniformed officers from London’s Metropolitan Police force weren’t among them, as has been the case in previous years.

The move came in response to LGBTQ campaigners raising concerns over their confidence in policing, in particular the quality of the police force’s investigation into murders carried out by serial killer Stephen Port. Port was sentenced to life without parole in 2016 for murdering four gay young men he met online.

Members of the police force were able to join Saturday’s march of their own accord.

“I think the police have been sensitive to the issues raised by the community,” Khan said. “And there will be uniformed officers in and around Pride to make sure we’re all safe, to make sure this parade is a success.”

Participants were urged to have a COVID-19 blood test done before marching, as there are more cases of the virus in Britain. For anyone with symptoms similar to monkeypox, the U.K. Health Security Agency issued a warning.


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