London Pride in the name of love: record crowd expected at first parade since lockdown

·2 min read
Organisers said they were seeing “incredible amounts of demand and excitement for this weekend’s event” (AFP via Getty Images)
Organisers said they were seeing “incredible amounts of demand and excitement for this weekend’s event” (AFP via Getty Images)

Record-breaking crowds are

predicted at tomorrow’s Pride parade as it returns in full for the first time since the pandemic.

More than 1.5 million people are expected to take part, either in the parade or as spectators, 50 years on since Britain’s first Pride march was held in 1972. With a focus on unity and equality, it will retrace part of the same route marched 50 years ago.

Organisers said they were seeing “incredible amounts of demand and excitement for this weekend’s event”.

Pride over the years - In pictures

Haven Thorn, Pride in London’s spokesman, said: “I think in the face of adversity, discrimination and oppression, the LGBT+ community has persevered through the most challenging of times.

“I think Pride at its core will always be a protest. And while we come together to celebrate the successes and victories that we as a community have enjoyed since 1972, there’s still so much work ahead of us — particularly for our trans community and protecting human rights.”

While the past half century has seen remarkable strides in the cause of LGBT+ equality, campaigners said more work needs to be done as they call for the Government to ban conversion therapy and for better protection against LGBT+ hate crime.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Marching the streets in 1972 was an incredibly brave thing to do, and this Saturday will see thousands of people, friends and families once more coming together to mark the tremendous milestone of 50 years of our capital’s Pride.”

Hundreds of Met officers will be deployed during the Pride celebrations with some of them appearing on a parade float.

Commander Dr Alison Heydari said many officers will line the route, adding: “The Met is a place where LGBTQ+ colleagues can thrive.”

Intersex-Inclusive Pride flags, designed by Valentino Vecchietti and used to represent the LGBTIQ+ community, hang across Regent Street (REUTERS)
Intersex-Inclusive Pride flags, designed by Valentino Vecchietti and used to represent the LGBTIQ+ community, hang across Regent Street (REUTERS)

There have been calls from some campaigners for uniformed police to stay away after the force’s failures over serial killer Stephen Port.

The parade will start in Park Lane near Hyde Park at noon and head down Piccadilly, turn south on Haymarket, before going through Trafalgar Square, and then culminating in Whitehall at around 6pm. More than 300 floats will travel through the streets, as well as groups performing, singing and dancing.

At the end of the parade, participants will be asked to join in “50 seconds of all of our pride”, said Mr Thorn, where the audience will be asked to reflect on the past half-century of LGBT+ history in any way they choose.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was delighted to be attending an in-person Pride this year. “When we march to mark Pride this weekend, we’ll be celebrating our LGBTQI+ communities, standing up for human rights and showing that unity will always triumph over division,” he said.

Four stages in Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Golden Square and Dean Street will play host to more than 100 performers including Emeli Sandé, Ava Max, and Eurovision winner Netta.

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