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Pride, while prejudice stalks

Today’s gay celebration is as relevant now as it was in 1972

As ever, there will be plenty of noise when the annual Pride march makes its way through London this afternoon. Among the 200 groups taking part is the London Gay Symphonic Winds orchestra. Drums, tambourines and booming speaker systems are set to fulfil their task of adding “loud” to the “proud” of thousands of parade-goers. But this year the mood music in the LGBT community runs to a notably different tune. For the first time since the march began, in 1972, there is, following the legalisation of same-sex marriage last year, no legal difference between being gay and being straight. Some ask whether there is anything left to shout about.

The answer is a resounding “Yes”. Equality before the law has by no means swept aside the prejudice that homosexual men and women still face in their daily lives. There are specific areas of friction: on adoption, on attitudes in the workplace, on perceived barriers to political office. More broadly, however, there is the simple fact that elements of society lag far behind the progressive curve. Examples come in the form of the ridiculous, such as the Ukip councillor who argued equal marriage would lead to flooding. Or the tragic, such as the Vauxhall clubber severely injured earlier this month in a homophobic attack.

And worldwide, the picture darkens. Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 70 nations, with Uganda far from alone in its growing level of violence and persecution. The Pride rally offers a chance for all to stand in solidarity – on your feet or off them – with those who live in fear merely because of their sexuality. Britain is an increasingly tolerant place – a recent Pew survey of 40 nations put us close to the top on attitudes to homosexuality. Nevertheless, 17 per cent of citizens still consider love between two people of the same gender to be immoral. We have a way to go. Banging the drum out front, as Pride will do today, remains as important as ever.