By Mike Fuller, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) – The streets of London were filled with color on Saturday as the UK capital celebrated its 50th anniversary.
A lively crowd of a few thousand either went out to take part or watch the festival, making a spectacle of rainbow flags, glitter and sequins.
The parade came half a century after London’s first Pride celebrations in 1972, two years after it was canceled due to a coronavirus epidemic.
Saturday’s procession began outside Hyde Park and took the same route as the original, circling the streets toward Westminster. This was followed by a concert in Trafalgar Square.
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Chris Joel-Dishilds, director of Organizers Pride in London, said “important” rights and freedoms have been achieved since the opening ceremony, “but there is more to be done”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the celebrations as a “beautiful day” of “unity, visibility, equality and solidarity”.
More than 600 LGBTQ groups led by members of the Gay Liberation Front since the 1972 protests were expected to take part in the march.
Emergency services were also represented, from charities to universities.
But uniformed officers from the London Metropolitan Police were not among them, as in previous years.
The move comes in response to concerns about the policing of LGBTQ preachers, especially their confidence in the quality of police investigations into the murders perpetrated by serial killer Stephen Port. In 2016, Port was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of four young gay men he met online.
Members of the police force were able to voluntarily join Saturday’s march.
“I think the police were sensitive to the issues raised by the community,” Khan said. “And there will be uniformed officers around Pride to make sure we are all safe to make this parade a success.”
Those taking part were asked to test a COVID-19 before March, as the incidence of the virus increased across the UK. The UK Health Security Agency issued a similar warning for people showing possible symptoms of monkeypox.
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