Belfast Pride Festival goes virtual for 2020

The Pride Parade in Belfast has been a staple in the city for the past number of years.

Belfast was expected to be a sea of colour today, with the annual Pride Festival scheduled to take place in the city.

However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the celebrations have moved online, with the event instead taking place on Belfast Pride Festival's social media channels.

People were asked to kit themselves out in their best pride gear, this year's theme being Rainbow Heroes, and send a video to Belfast Pride ahead of the virtual parade today.

The parade, which will begin at 1pm, will be hosted by Trudy Scrumptious and Gareth Woods, featuring the videos submitted by the public.

A number of additional events will take place throughout the weekend as part of the festival, including the Party in the Square which will see a number of LGBT+ acts take to the stage at the Custom House Square.

Public Health Agency spokeswoman Fiona Teague said Pride is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the organisations working to support the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community.

Research has shown that overall, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender community are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and other mental health issues due to discrimination and social isolation.

“Due to the Covid-19 restrictions we, like so many other supporters, are unable to take part as usual in the Pride parade.

“We want to send a message of support to the LGBTQ+ community and let them know there are support services available for their needs, and to not struggle on their own with whatever they are going through.

“Research has shown that overall, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender community are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and other mental health issues due to discrimination and social isolation.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said Pride is a chance to reflect on positive changes for the LGBTQ community in Northern Ireland.

In a video posted on Twitter, Ms Long said: “While we will certainly miss having the gathering of the Pride parade, it is still nevertheless very important that we focus on what we have achieved over the past few years as a community and what we can achieve in the future by working together.”

“Obviously we have had big wins with equal marriage but we still have work to do to ensure those in civil partnerships can transfer them to be marriages if they wish to do so.”

The first same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland took place in February.

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