Pride in London: more than a million expected to gather in the capital

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: James Manning/PA</span>
Photograph: James Manning/PA

More than a million people are expected to congregate for the first Pride in London since before the pandemic.

Saturday’s event also marks the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride parade, which was attended by about 2,000 people.

Including a parade and a line-up of artists performing across four stages around central London, this year’s Pride has been billed as the “biggest and most inclusive event in history” by its organisers.

Uniformed officers have been asked not to march in the parade, which begins at midday at Hyde Park Corner.

It follows calls from LGBTQ+ campaigners to bar them over Scotland Yard’s allegedly homophobic handling of the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port.

The Metropolitan police said on Friday that officers who did wish to join the celebrations should do so in civilian clothes rather than police uniform, after listening to the “legitimate concerns” of activists.

It is understood that members of the Met’s LGBTQ+ network will take part in the parade on Saturday afternoon, while uniformed officers will still police the event.

Matt Jukes, an assistant commissioner with the force, said: “I understand the concerns people have about the Met taking part in London’s Pride march. Everyone who is going to be in the parade has asked to be part of Pride as a member of our LGBT+ staff network.”

Related: ‘My young friend’s joy quickened my jaded gay heart’ – the Pride I’ll never forget

The parade is to pay homage to the 1972 march – passing significant sites from the UK’s early gay rights movement – and will run until 6pm, finishing at Whitehall Palace. More than 600 LGBTQ+ groups are expected to join the march, which 30,000 people have so far registered to attend.

Among the stars set to take to the stage throughout the course of the day is American pop singer Ava Max, who will close the show on the Trafalgar Stage.

Emeli Sandé, Eurovision winner Netta, Samantha Mumba and Kat Graham are also on the line-up.

The first Pride event in the UK was held in response to the Stonewall riots, which began in June 1969 after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was among the organisers of the 1972 event, told the Guardian: “We came up with the idea of Gay Pride, as it was then called, to challenge the prevailing consensus, which was that we should be ashamed of who we were.

“Pride was what was chosen to contradict the view that we should be ashamed and that there was something fundamentally wrong with being LGBTQ+. As far as I know, London Pride was the first in the world to call itself Pride.”

Organisers said all proceeds raised commercial partnerships this year would be reinvested into the LGBTQ+ community, including through the Unity Fund.

Public health officials have urged those with monkeypox symptoms, or those who feel unwell, not to attend Pride events on Saturday.

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