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Video and Pictures: Thousands attend gay carnival parade for Belfast Pride Festival

By Gary Grattan

The 19th Belfast Pride Festival comprised a week-long programme of events, including a sci-fi night, representatives of local political parties joining in an Amnesty International lecture, a women’s night, talent show and a range of arts performances.

>> Watch: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3

But the highlight was the carnival parade through Belfast.

Simon Rea, a member of the Belfast Gay Pride organising committee, said it had been a busy week.

“We’ve had a wide range of events taking place every day,” he said. Everyone and anyone who believes in equality has lent their support and got involved.

“Opposition to what we stand for has always been very vocal but fortunately they are a small minority.”

Marian Duggan was busy telling people about their organisation — the Lesbian Advocacy Services Initiative (LASI).

“We have recently been allocated funding to support the service we provide for lesbian and bi-sexual women in Northern Ireland and their families,” she said.

“Our website offers a wide range of advice — legal, political, social, etc. We want to get the message across that we are here,” she explained.

Jon McFarland, from Belfast, reckoned Belfast Pride gets better every year.

“It’s getting more and more acceptable in Belfast for people to feel comfortable about who I am. I love it,” he said.

Aran Hennessy from Fermanagh wasn’t at the event last year, but after hearing great reports about it, was determined to turn up this year.

“I’m so glad I did. The weather has been a bit dodgy but it’s been fantastic. Everyone has their own day — there’s St Patrick’s Day and the Twelfth. This is my day,” he said.

Immediately after the parade, Custom House Square was the venue for a free concert featuring live music and DJs on stage.

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