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© Greater London Authority

On 1 July 1972, around 2,000 people marched down Regent Street in London in the name of Gay Pride. Up to 40 members of the Gay Liberation Front had organised the protest, hoping it would serve as an antidote to widespread gay shame prevalent throughout the community. This weekend, the city is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this ground-breaking march, though in Oslo, Norway, Pride organisers have been forced to cancel their annual event after a gunman went on a deadly rampage at one of the city’s gay bars. Speaking to GAY TIMES at his Pride Reception on 27 June, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said the event is a reminder that “we must never be complacent about the homophobia that exists around the globe”.

“We’ve got to make sure that we remind ourselves of the history of Pride, but also are never complacent and actually, Oslo – I was speaking to colleagues and friends here from Oslo Pride – Oslo is one of the most progressive, open societies in the world, notwithstanding that, you’ve had these horrific, homophobic murders,” he further explained. “That’s why it’s so important to not be complacent.”

Ahead of attending a vigil for the victims in Soho Square, Khan called on those taking part in London’s own Pride marches and celebrations to do so with Oslo in mind. “Across the globe, you’re seeing examples of, you know, violence, discrimination, but also murders against the LGBTQI+ community and I think what’s important, not just today at the vigil, not just this week, but on Saturday, is we don’t just have a fantastic day celebrating the progress made over the last 50 years, but we march for openness, inclusivity, we march for Oslo, and we march for love,” he stated.

Reflecting on how London’s LGBTQ+ community is feeling in the wake of the terror attack, the Mayor sought to remind everyone that the city “is a beacon to the rest of the world when it comes to our values and our openness,” but also acknowledged that “things are not perfect in London or our country.” He encourages anyone who experiences discrimination to report it as the “police work incredibly hard to have a zero tolerance towards hate crime, homophobia [and] hatred.” Khan continued: “But actually what we’re going to do is to make sure nobody succeeds in dividing our communities. You know, an attack on one minority is an attack on us all and we’ve got to be allies.”

Khan confirmed that he will “be proudly marching” at the Pride in London event on 2 July – which he said is set to be the “best ever” – and that people from all walks of life should get involved and “see for yourself what a wonderful day it is.” He explained that the 50th year anniversary serving as a reminder of “the progress we’ve made” since the Gay Liberation Front first marched in 1972: “But also, I always remind friends who are minorities, you know, progress isn’t guaranteed to go one way, it could be regressive as well. That’s why all of us, whether you’re from the LGBTQI+ community or an ally, must stand together.”