LONDON ( Associated Press) – The streets of London were filled with color on Saturday as the UK capital celebrated 50 years of pride.
A lively crowd of hundreds of thousands turned up to either take part in the festivities or watch, forming a spectacle of rainbow flags, glitter and glitter.
After two years of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the parade came half a century after London’s first march to celebrate Pride in 1972.
Saturday’s march began on a route similar to the original, outside Hyde Park and touring the streets of Westminster. This would be followed by a concert in Trafalgar Square.
Chris Joell-Deshields, director of organizers Pride in London, said “momentary” rights and freedoms have been earned since the first opportunity, “but there is more to do”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised a “beautiful day” of “unity, visibility, equality and solidarity” as he joined the celebrations.
More than 600 LGBTQ groups are expected to take part in the march, which was led by members of the Gay Liberation Front during the 1972 protest.
Organizations ranging from charities to universities to the emergency services were also represented.
But uniformed officers of London’s Metropolitan Police Force were not among them, as was the case in previous years.
The move came in response to LGBTQ campaigners expressing concern about their confidence in policing, particularly the quality of the police force’s killings carried out by serial killer Stephen Port. In 2016, Port was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders of four young gay men he met online.
Members of the police force were able to join Saturday’s march on their own initiative.
“I think the police were sensitive to the issues raised by the community,” Khan said. “And there will be uniformed officers in and around Pride to make sure we are all safe, to make sure this parade is a success.”
Those taking part were encouraged to take a COVID-19 test before the march with virus cases on the rise across Britain. The British Health Safety Agency has issued a similar warning to people showing possible symptoms of monkey pox.