Thousands to attend Pride parade
Tens of thousands of people will converge on Manchester this weekend as one of the world's biggest gay pride events gets under way.
A colourful carnival will fill the streets of the city centre today, with upwards of 100,000 lining the route each year to watch the glamorous and outrageous out and proud participants.
Once again the parade will be led by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), with hundreds of officers and staff from across the country taking part - making it the biggest police participation in any Pride parade anywhere in the world.
This year to mark the introduction of gay marriage, the theme of Saturday'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.
The city's Gay Village area will see around 40,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people watching some of the world's biggest stars performing live, and a series of events and activities will be taking place throughout the weekend.
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."
The festival ends on Bank Holiday Monday with the Candlelit Vigil, which remembers those who have died from HIV/Aids, and celebrates those living with HIV.
Throughout the weekend, GMP's rainbow-liveried car will be patrolling the Village, giving out information about hate crime.
GMP Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: "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."
More information about Manchester Pride is available at www.manchesterpride.com