Houses of Parliament to be lit up rainbow for Pride in London
The Houses of Parliament will be lit up in rainbow colours for the first time ever to celebrate Pride in London.
The announcement comes after approval was given by the Speakers of the Commons and Lords, both of whom are strong supporters of LGBT rights.
The world-famous buildings will be lit up in the colours of the Pride flag from this evening, across the weekend.
The illuminations can be viewed across the Thames from the Southbank and from Westminster Bridge.
Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons said: “I am delighted to once again see the rainbow flag flying over Portcullis House, following last year’s successful first recognition of this special Pride in London weekend, and am very much looking forward to seeing the Palace illuminated in LGBT+ colours.
“I would also like to pay tribute to our colleagues at ParliOUT and across the House of Commons, all of whom have worked tirelessly to ensure this is a welcoming workplace for all.”
Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords said: “One of the most urgent issues today is the stigma and discrimination that affects gay men and women.
“The situation has improved in Britain over the past few years, though few would say that all hostility has been overcome. But in many other countries the situation is far worse.
“Homosexuality is still illegal in over 70 countries around the world, including many in the Commonwealth. None of this will be solved by a march or a display of lights in Westminster.
“But these acts will demonstrate to those who are being persecuted or abused that they are supported. The lights are a symbol of our support.”
It is just one of the many ways that Pride in London will be marked across the Parliamentary estate.
UK Parliament staff will be taking part in the Pride in London Parade, marching alongside an open top decker bus, to promote the many ways that people can engage with Parliament and to raise awareness of the institution as an inclusive place to work.
The side of the bus will bear the message ‘Love Happens Here’.
Parliament has also for the first time organised special ‘Pride at Parliament’ tours, marking 50 years since the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 and 60 years since the presentation of the Wolfenden Report in 1957.
Launching on Sunday, the tours will highlight the significant part played by LGBT people in Parliament, as leaders, legislators, activists, lobbyists and monarchs; and explore the struggle for civil rights from universal condemnation and victimisation to the freedoms and rights enjoyed today.
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David Geary, Head of Political Engagement for Pride in London said: “It was in the Houses of Parliament that homosexuality was decriminalised, equal consent laws were introduced, the bigoted Section 28 was repealed, where civil partnership and ultimately equal marriage were adopted.
“This powerful institution, right at the heart of British democracy has become a powerful tool for equality in recent times. The rainbow flag flying above serves as a testament to this legacy and a reflection of how far we have come as a community – with more LGBT+ politicians than any other country in the world.
“The illumination of the Palace of Westminster demonstrates the resilience of the torch which burns for global equality.”
Leanne Smith and Aaron Speer, Co-Chairs of ParliOUT said: “On behalf of all ParliOUT members, we would like to thank Mr Speaker and the Lord Speaker for arranging what we are sure will be a memorable illumination for the Pride weekend and once again agreeing to the raising of the rainbow flag above Portcullis House.
“While we recognise that there is still more to do, this is a very positive symbol of how far we have come in becoming a more inclusive workplace.”