Belfast marches for equality at this year’s Pride
Huge crowds have turned out to march for equality for the 25th Belfast Pride parade in the city centre.
Belfast Pride attracted massive crowds this afternoon as thousands came together to march for marriage equality on the 25th year of the festival.
The theme for Belfast Pride 2015 is “25 Years Building Equality. It’s Time.”
Same-sex marriage is a key focus for this year’s festival following the ‘Yes’ vote in the Republic of Ireland in May.
Organisers believe more people than ever before have turned out for this year’s parade in a bid to persuade the government to legalise gay marriage in Northern Ireland – the only country in the UK yet to do so.
Despite the introduction of same-sex marriage in England, Scotland and Wales, the DUP government in Northern Ireland continues to block all legislation on the issue.
Sean O’Neill – who chairs the Belfast Pride Festival – told Belfast Live: “We want equality but we are celebrating everything our community is and our place in the community.”
Festival goers of all ages were picture in rainbow-coloured clothes, as they marched in a sea of endless banners declaring “Marriage Equality Now”, and “Love Is A Human Right”.
However, anti-gay Christian protesters also turned out in force, protesting outside the City Hall with their own banners, with some claiming that marriage between same-sex partners is “unholy” and others comparing the LGBT community to “whoremongers” and “adulterers”.
Although that did little to dampen the festival goers spirits – with a spokesperson from Belfast’s city hall announcing it will be lit up “like a rainbow” tonight in honour of Pride Day.
Belfast Pride is now a ten day festival with over 100 events after originally starting with a parade of just 100 people.
Organisers say the parade is “a chance to showcase the LGBT community and it is a positive celebration of the LGBT community in Belfast” while they continue to press for full equality.
The DUP shattered hopes by blocking equality for a fourth time earlier this year – but a poll has this week found that same-sex marriage has overwhelming popular support.
The Ipsos MORI survey found 68% of people in the country now support same-sex marriage – even higher than the 62.1% who voted Yes in the Republic of Ireland.
Support is much higher among young people, with 82% of 16 to 34-year-olds and 75% of 35 to 54-year-olds supporting same-sex marriage.
Even among DUP supporters, 45% of people disagree with their own party’s stance on the issue.
(Photos: Twitter – Amnesty International NI, Lovin’ Belfast, Amnesty International UK LGBT)