Manchester Pride’s Big Weekend returns this Friday, transforming the city’s Gay Village into one of the world’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) festivals.
Tens of thousands of people will attend the four-day festival in the Village, where some of the world’s biggest stars will be performing live and a series of events and activities will be taking place throughout the weekend.
Many more will also watch Saturday’s parade through the city centre which will, once again, be led by Greater Manchester Police.
Hundreds of police officers and staff from across the country take part in the parade each year – making it the biggest police participation in any Pride parade anywhere in the world.
To celebrate the introduction of equal marriage, the theme of this year’s parade is love. GMP staff will wear colourful t-shirts with the message “Love Doesn’t Hurt” and information about how to get advice and support for people worried about domestic violence.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “Manchester Pride is one of the world’s leading LGBT festivals. Manchester is renowned across the globe as a city which accepts people for who they are – which is something we can all be proud of.
“Beyond the celebrations, it sends a message out both at home and abroad of tolerance and inclusion. The fact that police play such a pivotal role – with more police taking part in the parade than in any other Pride parade in the world – shows just how far we have come in this country, and should give hope to those who live under oppressive regimes elsewhere.
“The theme of this year’s parade is love. Sadly it’s the case that too many people suffer from domestic violence. Love shouldn’t hurt, whether you are gay or straight, old or young, rich or poor, black or white. Support is out there, from police and other agencies, and I would anyone suffering at the hands of their partner to get the help they need.”
Unfortunately Tony is unable to attend this year’s festival, but Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jim Battle will represent him on the parade.
The festival ends on Bank Holiday Monday with the Candlelit Vigil, which remembers those we have lost to HIV/Aids, and celebrates those living with HIV in our communities.
Throughout the weekend, GMP’s rainbow-liveried car will be patrolling the Village, giving out information about hate crime.
Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy added: “Manchester Pride is a very important event for us, as we are committed to erasing hate crime in our communities, and utterly condemn abuse or attacks motivated by someone’s sexual orientation or transgender identity.
“Being LGBT is no barrier to working for the police, or to progressing within the organisation, and we constantly strive to reflect society by recruiting people from a wide range of minorities.
“Diversity training is provided to all new officers to ensure they can respond to the needs of different groups, and I would urge people to come forward if they’ve been a victim of hate crime, as officers will always listen and act on information given.”
For more information about Manchester Pride, visit their website at www.manchesterpride.com
Information for anyone suffering from domestic abuse, or those worried about friends or loved ones, is available at www.endthefear.co.uk
You can report hate crime by calling police on 101, or online at www.report-it.org.uk
Alternatively, you can visit one of the third party hate crime reporting centres listed at www.gmp.police.uk/hatecrime