Gay Pride festival celebrated in Belfast

Gay Pride festival celebrated in Belfast

Thousands of people attended the 24th annual Gay Pride parade in Belfast city centre on Saturday.

Organisers say the Belfast Pride parade is Ireland's largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender festival - and that next year's will be even bigger to mark a quarter of a century of the parade.The Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon helped get things underway by unveiling the Belfast Pride theme banner that led the parade.Members of the Free Presbyterian Church held a protest, while a number of other church groups took part in the festival.The parade left Custom House Square at noon and made its way through the city's streets before returning to the square, where pop acts Stooshe and Micha B were among the entertainers.It is the main event in a week of activities aimed at highlighting issues facing the LGBT community in NI and raising awareness.It's like raiiiiiinnnnn on your Pride Parade dayyyyy... ??????— Belfast Pride (@belfastpride) August 2, 2014Ahead of Saturday's parade, NUS-USI President Rebecca Hall called on Stormont to deliver marriage equality and end the blood donation ban on gay men.She said the event sends out an important message of equality and also celebrates diversity."NUS-USI and students in Northern Ireland have a proud history of campaigning on LGBT rights and equality."If Northern Ireland wants to demonstrate that it's a society of equality for all, there must be an end to the blood donation ban and Equal Marriage must be a right for everyone."The union's LGBT Officer Colin Chan said: "It is not acceptable that Northern Ireland is trailing behind other parts of the UK on these important matters of equality. Having equality would send a very important message to the world that Northern Ireland is a welcoming place for all and help show that Northern Ireland is moving forward to a better future."Only when everyone has equal rights can a genuinely shared future be delivered. NUS-USI calls on government to act immediately to deliver the equality that everyone deserves."

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