Thousands attended the annual Gay Pride parade in Belfast yesterday, despite controversies that Northern Ireland will the only UK capital city where same-sex couples will be banned from marrying once the England and Wales same-sex marriage laws come into effect.

Yesterday marked the 23rd Annual Belfast parade, which is claimed to be the largest of its kind in the island of Ireland. Adam Bloch of the Belfast Pride Committee said that he was delighted with how this year’s celebrations went and that next year should be even bigger.

He said: “Our theme this year, ‘Bright Colours and Bold Statements for Equality’ was an undoubted success. I feel that it encouraged people to be more vocal during the parade about their demands for things like Equal Marriage in Northern Ireland, which I hope isn’t too far off.”

Members of Northern Ireland’s Assembly have repeatedly blocked introducing same-sex marriage, which is opposed by the country’s First Minister, Peter Robinson. DUP’s MP Ian Paisley Jr previously said: “I am pretty repulsed by gay and lesbianism. I think it is wrong. I think that those people harm themselves and – without caring about it – harm society.”

A number of Northern Ireland’s politicians and political parties were among the crowds attending the Belfast parade including the Member of the Legislative Assembly Basil McCrea.

Sinn Féin’s Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and the Alliance Party representative and Justice Minister David Ford were also in attendance.

Headlining the event was the 2008 X Factor finalist Ruth Lorenzo.

Grainne Teggart of Amnesty Northern Ireland said: “This year’s Pride was a wonderful celebration of diversity. We were delighted that hundreds of you took action for justice in the cases of two people murdered in South Africa and Turkey, both apparently because of their sexual orientation.”

Photos: Saud Buhamdi


Grainne Teggart of Amnesty Northern Ireland at their annual Pride stall