London mayor Boris Johnson has called for London to be the “benchmark of LGBT equality’ ahead of tomorrow’s Pride march.

In a message to marchers, Mr Johnson said: “With just over a year to go to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, anticipation is building to one of the most thrilling years in London’s history. Over the next 12months we will be welcoming people from around the world and events like the Pride London celebrations illustrate in magnificent and colourful style that we know how to throw a party.

“It’s a festival that also underlines our city’s reputation as a place where you can be yourself, something we can be proud of. Pop stars, sports stars, academics, politicians – people at all levels and in all walks of life – including my own team – feel comfortable and confident to be out and to be themselves.

“I want London to be the benchmark for LGBT equality, which is why we must not be complacent, especially when it comes to homophobic hate crime and bullying. My office will continue to work with LGBT groups as well as the police to tackle a problem that still affects too many lives.

“Pride has an important role to play in this, with individuals able to come together for an important community celebration, as well as a great day out for all in the heart of the capital. So have fun this Saturday and celebrate all that London has to offer. Happy Pride!”

Mr Johnson will not be attending tomorrow’s event, as he has in previous years. Deputy mayor Richard Barnes is expected to lead the parade, along with disability campaigner Kath Gillespie-Sells, who will be the grand marshall, and rugby player Ben Cohen.