The first ever Londonderry gay Pride parade took place in Northern Ireland last Saturday.
Organisers told the BBC that it was “a major step forward for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) community in [London]Derry”.
The parade took the same route as the 1968 civil rights march from Duke Street Railway station to Guildhall Square. Mayor of Derry, Colum Eastwood, marched with local politicians alongside the city’s LGBT community.
According to UTV, thousands turned out to watch or participate in the event. Later, the Pride celebrations – known as Foyle Pride – continued with a Creative Village in Guildhall Square featuring bands and local drag acts. There were also speeches from Mayor Eastwood and human rights activists Eamonn McCann and Bernadette McAliskey.
There was a minor counter-demonstration by a small number of protestors, and while this reportedly did little to dampen the spirits of those attending the parade, it was clear not everyone welcomed the event to the city.
Reverend Jonathan Campbell from Newbuildings Independent Methodist Church told the BBC prior to the celebrations that the planned parade would be an “obscenity”.
Rev Campbell added: “Homosexuality brought down the ancient civilisations of Rome, Greece and Egypt. It will be our downfall too.”
A participant in the parade told UTV: “We don’t harm anybody, we don’t do anything to any other people. We just want to live life the way we want to live life.”
Londonderry – set to be the UK’s City of Culture for 2013 – has seen a number of homophobic attacks in recent years. SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said that attending both the parade and the celebrations was a show of “solidarity with those who suffer this awful prejudice”.