Northern Ireland news

Tens of thousands celebrate Belfast Pride

The Belfast Pride parade took place in Belfast on Saturday. Picture by Arthur Allison
Gareth McKeown

TENS of thousands of people created a riot of colour in celebration of Belfast's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The annual Pride celebrations featured rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats.

Organisers of the city parade, which made its way through the centre of Belfast, estimating as many as 25,000 were either taking part or supporting the event.

Among those present for Pride were members of our local political parties, businesses and representatives from emergency services, including the PSNI, with uniformed officers attending their second Belfast parade in succession.

Sinn Féin leader in the north, Michelle O'Neill was among the strong party contingent and described it as a "day of smiles", which had a "carnival atmosphere", while UUP Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie enjoyed a "colourful parade" with a "decent bit of protest".

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), David Sterling was another enjoying the celebrations and marked the occasion with his first tweet.

"As an employer to 23,000 people, the NICS respects and values diversity and is committed to delivering an inclusive workplace for all our people," he wrote.

Belfast Pride volunteer worker, Denise Hart said the 2018 version was almost unrecognisable from the very first parade, which took place in the city back in 1991.

The Belfast Pride parade

"If you think back to the first one in 1991, you would have had about 100 people - students and the likes," she told the BBC.

"If you look around today, you will see so many corporate [parade entries] this year; you'll see trade unions; you'll see community groups.

"The make up of the Pride parade has changed, it really is a parade for everybody."

Belfast Lord Mayor, Deirdre Hargey

Campaigners from the Love Equality group used the parade to push the case for the UK Government to extend marriage equality legislation in the north.

Patrick Corrigan from the Love Equality coalition, said Pride was still a protest in Belfast.

"The LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland, their friends, families and allies, have come out today to demand equality for all.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

"Pride is always the most colourful day of the year in Belfast. This year it is bigger and brighter than ever. Behind the glitter, there is real anger, but also a determination that discrimination against LGBT+ people must end.

"Northern Ireland is now years behind the rest of the UK and Ireland on marriage equality. People on the streets of Belfast today are sick of a second-class citizenship based on who they are and where they live."

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday. PSNI pictured taking part in the Parade..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday. PSNI pictured taking part in the Parade..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

Pacemaker Press Belfast 04-08-2018: The Belfast Pride parade 2018 starts and finishes at Custom House Square in Belfast. Rainbow flags, face paint, fancy dress and brightly coloured floats will create a riot of colour on the streets of Belfast on Saturday..Picture By: Arthur Allison..

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