Ahead of Pride in London, mayor of London Sadiq Khan writes for PinkNews about how Pride is vital at a time when hard-fought rights are in question.
I’m hugely excited that this Saturday (2 July) we will once again see an outpouring of colour and creativity as we take to the streets of London for Pride.
The sight of hundreds of thousands of Londoners – both members of our LGBTQ+ communities and their allies – joining together in a spirit of celebration and solidarity is a real highlight of our year.
After the struggles and separation of the pandemic, it is also fantastic that we can return together in person to mark what is a special anniversary – 50 years since the first Pride in our capital.
As mayor, and as an ally to our incredible LGBTQ+ community, I’ve always been a passionate supporter of LGBTQ+ rights because I feel strongly that no one should ever face prejudice, discrimination or violence because of who they are or who they love.
Pride has had a major impact on driving forward positive changes in our society over the last five decades. But while there is much to celebrate, there is also still much more to be done to achieve true equality, with recent events leaving many worried that hard-won progress could be at risk of being eroded.
Wherever you look around the world there are currently reactionary forces seeking to wind back the clock and reverse the huge social gains that we’ve made over the last half-century. We are seeing human rights threatened, violated and attacked in all manner of ways and in all manner of places, from the Middle East and Eastern Europe to the US and the UK.
London mayor Sadiq Khan during the parade at Pride in London 2019 on July 06, 2019 in London, England. (Tristan Fewings/Getty)
In this country, for example, we see worrying plans by the government to abolish the Human Rights Act and reduce the influence of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as transgender people being made the focus of a cruel and morally reprehensible culture war campaign.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the chilling decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade, horrifically stripping women of their constitutional right to abortion, looks like it could be just part of a concerted effort to undermine people’s rights, with equal marriage likely to be the next target.
States across the country have already passed laws targeting LGBTQI+ youth.
While in Norway, we have seen the horror of a terrorist attack on an LGBTQI+ venue in Oslo, killing two innocent people and injuring many more just hours before their Pride parade was due to take place.
On Monday (27 June), I was proud to join with members from London’s own LGBTQI+ communities, along with fellow allies and representatives from Oslo Pride and the Norwegian Embassy, in Soho Square to show our solidarity with all those affected and to send an emphatic message that terrorists who seek to sow fear and spread division will never win.
An attack on one minority community will always be an attack on all of our communities, as well as an assault on our freedom, liberty and diversity. That’s why our best response to such acts will always be to stand firm and stand together, and reaffirm our values, not by changing our way of life, but by continuing to live defiantly as we were.
LGBTQ+ people, just like any other communities, have every right to be themselves and feel safe – and be safe – as they go about their daily lives, and we all have a role to play in ensuring this is the case.
So this Saturday, let’s show that unity will always overcome division, that hope will always triumph over fear, and that love will always defeat hate.
As mayor of this great city, I’m proud that London is a place where you’re free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love.
But we can’t be complacent – we must always be on our guard and ready to defend our values. As we descend on central London for our annual pride parade, let’s march for an open, accepting and inclusive world.
Let’s march for Oslo. And let’s march for love.