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The LGBT+ Pride of London: Thousands march through the capital in celebration

The event marked 51 years since the first-ever march for LGBT+ rights in the capital

Matt Drake
Sunday 02 July 2023 00:39 BST
The Independent marches through London for 2023 Pride as official media partner

Huge crowds turned out for Pride in London on Saturday with thousands taking part in a colourful parade through the capital.

The march got under way from noon at Hyde Park and revellers were able to enjoy the festivities despite attempts by climate activists Just Stop Oil to disrupt the route.

The event marked 51 years since the first-ever march for LGBT+ rights in the capital. Visitors were treated to performances by Rita Ora and Adam Lambert at the main stage in Trafalgar Square during the afternoon.

Banners around the stage read “Never march alone” and “We march with our trans family”. Around 600 LGBT+ groups also took part in London Pride and The Independent was also an official media partner.

Police arrest Just Stop Oil protesters who tried to disrupt this year’s Pride celebrations (Yener Bayramoğlu)
The parade began at 12pm with thousands of people watching (Reuters)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who took part in the march, said it was “wonderful to be here back in the centre of our city on this wonderful day of celebration but also protest”.

The cast of coming-of-age TV series Heartstopper also took part in the festivities, dancing and interacting with fans on their pastel-coloured float.

TV presenter Gok Wan said ahead of the celebrations that Pride was “one hell of a party”, but added: “It’s also an opportunity for us to show our international friends that we stand with them and continue the fight for change.”

Just Stop Oil attempted to block a float from the Coca-Cola company at around 1:30pm, in protest at festival organiers accepting sponsorship money from “high-polluting industries”.

The group has called on London Pride to “stop allowing the inclusion of floats from these organisations in the parade”.

Thousands march through capital for annual Pride in London parade

Pride in London called for the parade to get the “respect and focus it deserves”. Will De’Athe-Morris, from the organisation, said that people were protesting for LGBT+ rights and “for our trans siblings”.

He added: “Anyone who tries to disrupt that protest and parade is really letting down those people who use this space once a year to come together to celebrate and protest for those rights.”

A Met Police spokesperson said seven people were arrested for "public nuisance" after the demonstration.

Max Donahue and Georgia Marks take part in the 2023 Pride Parade in London (Reuters)
Sadiq Khan also took part in the celebrations but reminded people that it is also a time of protest (PA)

The road was cleared after around 15 minutes and the march continued, the force added.

The parade carried on its route from Hyde Park Corner through Piccadilly Circus, down Haymarket and along Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square, culminating at Whitehall Place.

There was a carnival atmosphere to parts of the parade (AFP)
This year’s Pride them was ‘Never March Alone’ in support of trans and non-binary people (PA)

This year’s theme was “Never March Alone” in support of trans and non-binary allyship and crowds frequently broke out into chants of "trans lives matter" and people painted themselves in the transgender flag colours.

A spokesperson for Pride in London said: “We call on all individuals, groups and organisations to give this space the respect and focus it deserves in an increasingly hostile and unsafe world.”

Although Pride is often a colourful celebration, historically Pride has also been a protest too.

Speaking about the Just Stop Oil protesters, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Actually, Pride in London, the 600 groups marching in the parade or the 35,000 people on the parade themselves are protesting at the fact that things aren’t perfect in London,” he said.

“Particularly when it comes to the trans community who face stigmatisation, demonisation and have been weaponised in a culture war.

“So the irony where people on a protest could have protests against them isn’t lost on members of this wonderful community.”

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