London on Saturday celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first Pride parade, marking half a century of progress in the fight for equality and tolerance, but with warnings that more needs to be done.
Hundreds of people took part in the first march on 1 July 1972, just five years after homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK
Fifty years later, more than 600 LGBTQ + groups danced, sang, and drifted along a route similar to the original protest, in the first Pride since the coronavirus pandemic, which was watched by large cheering crowds.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan told reporters the event, which organizers said was the “biggest and most inclusive” in its history, was a celebration of community, unity and progress.
But he said it was also a reminder of the need to ‘campaign and never be complacent’ and the need for an open, inclusive, accepting world.
“We saw an attack in Oslo at this time last week just hours before that parade, where two people lost their lives and more than 20 were injured,” he said.
“So, we need to be aware of the fact that there is still a danger to this community of discrimination, prejudice and violence.”
Khan’s predecessor as mayor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said it gave him “the greatest pride to lead a country where you can love whoever you choose to love and where you can be free to be who you are”. wants to be. ”
The 50th anniversary was a “milestone,” he said, paying tribute to the bravery of those who did it first.
Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay rights activist who took part in the 1972 march, said some of the original event boycotted today’s sponsored version as “depoliticized and commercialized.”
In 1972, “Gay Pride”, as it was known at the time, was a demand for visibility and equality against a backdrop of lingering prejudice, discrimination and fear among many gay men and women to come out.
In the 1980s, Pride became a focal point for a campaign against legislation by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government against the “promotion of homosexuality” in schools.
It has also helped raise awareness and support for people living with HIV / Aids.
Now, with the rainbow flag of inclusion and tolerance spreading across the spectrum of human sexuality and gender, Pride in London is more celebration than protest.
Tatchell said despite victories such as same-sex marriage, “we continue to fight to ban LGBT + conversion practices that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“We are still fighting to ensure trans people’s right to change their legal documents with ease through a simple statutory declaration. And of course we stand in solidarity with a global LGBT + movement,” he told AFP.
Julian Hows, now 67, was at the first march. He said, “progress is always incremental,” criticizing restrictions on LGBTQ + rights around the world.
“We need to be vigilant. The price of liberation and keeping people’s human rights intact is vigilance,” he added.
Padraigin Ni Raghillig, president of Dykes on Bikes London, a motorcycle club for gay women, said the event retained part of its original campaign spirit.
“It is still important, I think, to be out at least once a year and to say, ‘we are here, we are queer, and we are not going to go shopping,'” Ni Raghillig said. A Harley Davidson.
Among those who marched was a contingent from Ukraine, which criticized homophobia in Russia.
This year’s Pride has given warnings to people with monkey pox symptoms to stay away, after public health officials said many cases in the UK were reported among gay and bisexual men.
LGBTQ + campaign group Stonewall said everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of monkey pox, which is transmitted through close contact, regardless of sexual orientation.