Veterans walk London Pride route to celebrate 50th anniversary

Peter Tatchell Image copyright AFP
Image caption Peter Tatchell helped organise the first Pride in London event

Twelve of the surviving activists from the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) have marched in London to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

They followed the route normally taken by Pride in London, which was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.

A separate Black Trans Lives Matters protest gathered at Hyde Park and marched through central London to celebrate black transgender people.

Hundreds of demonstrators held banners saying “protect trans youth”.

Some marchers carried fresh flowers and banners reading “Fight police brutality, fight racism! Fight imperialism!” and “Black trans lives matter”.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Many of the GLF veterans are aged in their 70s and 80s
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A Black Trans Lives Matter protest marched from Hyde Park through central London

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell was joined by former GLF members to walk the Pride route, many of whom were aged in their 70s and 80s.

The GLF was formed in 1970 and has been credited as being the beginning of the modern LGBT+ movement in the UK.

Organisers said the march was not open to the wider LGBT+ community in order to comply with social distancing regulations and to protect the veterans, however a small group of people joined in to give their support.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The demonstration in Hyde Park is linked the Black Lives Matter protest
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Demonstrators were asked to decorate face masks with flowers for the Black Trans Lives Matter rally

Mr Tatchell, who helped organise the UK’s first Pride march in 1972, said: “Homophobia did not defeat us, so we’re not going to let the Covid-19 pandemic stop Pride.

“We GLF veterans confronted anti-LGBT+ bigots 50 years ago. We faced down police harassment, far-right extremists and homophobic political and religious leaders.

“We are marching as Pride was planned, with face masks and social distancing.”

Image copyright Reuters

Mr Tatchell added: “We support Black Lives Matter and the just demands of black communities, just as we did in the early 1970s.

“GLF did not seek equal rights within a flawed, unjust status quo. It campaigned for the transformation of society to end straight supremacism and stood in solidarity with all other oppressed communities.

“This same agenda of radical social transformation is needed now as the UK faces the quadruple whammy of Covid-19, economic meltdown, endemic racism and climate destruction.”