London World Pride
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“The sudden, drastic curtailment of the World Pride parade, rally and street parties is a huge blow to London and its gay community. The promised extravaganza looks set to descend into a chaotic damp squib. Visitors from all over Britain and the world face disappointment. It will do great damage to London’s reputation just three weeks before the Olympics,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who helped organise Britain’s first Gay Pride parade, held in London 40 years ago, in July 1972. He is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Mr Tatchell was commenting on the announcement by the organisers that the World Pride events in London on Saturday 7 July will be massively scaled back. See their news release below. This year is the first time that London has hosted World Pride, which brings together lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from all over the world to participate in a parade, rally and human rights conference. The event’s slogan is: “Decriminalise homosexuality worldwide - Global equality for LGBT people.” This year’s World Pride is hosted and organised by Pride London:http://www.pridelondon.org London police and municipal authorities accuse the World Pride organisers of unpaid debts and failing to advance the necessary funds to cover this year’s events. The World Pride organisers dispute last year’s debts and assert that the funds required would have been raised eventually, to allow this year’s festivities to proceed largely as planned. The veracity of claim and counter-claim is impossible to ascertain. “I urge the mayor, police and Westminster council to re-open negotiations with the World Pride organisers to allow the scheduled events to take place, for the sake of the million-plus people expected to participate and to avoid widespread chaos across central London. “The authorities are accused of unexpectedly and unreasonably demanding that the advertised parade start time be switched from 1pm to 11am. At this late stage, it will not be possible to alert all the people who are planning to attend. Many are arriving on pre-booked trains, planes and coaches, based on a kick-off time of 1pm. They will arrive at the start point long after the parade has departed and will be left wandering the streets, not knowing where to go. “The change in the parade start time is a huge gamble by the mayor, police and Westminster council. The scheduled orderly parade could well descend into mayhem, with the much of central London becoming gridlocked for hours with vast confused crowds. “Banning floats in the parade is a big blow to the many LGBT charities that have spent thousands of pounds on hiring and decorating them. They will lose a major opportunity to raise their profile and publicise their work. “The shortening of the post-parade rally in Trafalgar Square will force organisers to drop booked entertainers and human rights speakers. The main street party in Soho has been cancelled. These ill-advised decisions are likely to result in hundreds of thousands of people milling aimlessly around the West End. It is a recipe for confusion and disruption. “The actions of the authorities will turn what would have been a positive event for London into a PR disaster. Vast numbers of people will be left feeling let down and angry. “Regardless of these problems, the parade will go head. Without the floats and parties, it will revert to its roots - a protest march for LGBT human rights worldwide. This is entirely appropriate, as July is the 40th anniversary of the UK’s first-ever Gay Pride parade, which took place in London on 1 July 1972,” said Mr Tatchell.
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