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Thousands cheer on annual Pride parade in London

Giant peacock floats, motorbike formations and martial arts demonstrations accompanied by thumping pop tunes have formed part of London’s annual Pride Parade this year.

Attendees in the colourful procession wore all kinds of outfits ranging from carnival costumes to gym gear, while crowds lined the streets from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square to cheer them on as a giant rainbow Pride flag was carried through central London.

Organised by not-for-profit Pride in London, an estimated 500 LGBTQ+ community groups and businesses took part, comprising more than 32,000 people.

The procession set off at around midday, with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the front alongside his wife Saadiya Khan.

BBC London reporter Gopal Virdee was in the crowd during the parade and said music was blasting out of the parade floats in “what seems like a battle of which float can play the loudest”.

He added people were wearing “the most colourful and creative costumes” and had decorated floats with all kinds of themes, including a peacock with rainbow feathers.

One of the groups at the front of the parade was lesbian motorcycle club Sapphic Riders, who were in a formation made up of small bikes and cruisers.

Speaking to BBC London, club member Pumper said they attended Pride every year for “visibility” and inclusivity, adding: “We are London, we are UK born and bred and we are thrilled to be a part of Pride.

“Everyone’s happy, everyone’s just joyous to be here.”

Among the colourful and unusual floats was a mobile mini basketball court driven by London Knights, an inclusive LGBTQIA+ basketball club.

Wilson, from the team, told BBC London said it was important for the club to attend the Pride Parade for “awareness” and to represent themselves in a field which he said has problems with homophobia and misogyny.

“Everybody should be able to play the sport that they love and in an environment where it feels safe, comfortable and welcome,” he added.

“We just want to make people aware that we are just like any other person, we’re here to have fun.”

Marchers from the group Queers for Palestine also walked down Piccadilly, chanting “there is no pride in genocide”.

The 50-person group held posters accusing Israel of genocide and condemning “pinkwashing” – the accusation that Israel takes a progressive position on gay rights to improve its international reputation.

The Israeli embassy has been contacted for a response.

Asked why she wanted to join the group, one female marcher who did not want to be identified said: “Free Palestine.”

Waving a big flag, Arman Khan, who did not want to give their age, said they were against pinkwashing.

Asked what they made of criticisms that Queers For Palestine ignore the limited gay rights within Palestinian society, they said: “I can’t speak because I’m not from there, but you have to be in a privileged position to ask that question.”

They said the group was getting a positive response from the crowd.

Tahir Kesai, a 50-year-old working in property, said: “We decided to march because we think it’s important to be here. We’re too passionate about this cause to not participate.”

It comes amid reports in The Sunday Telegraph that parade participants from Jewish organisations KeshetUK and West London Synagogue pulled out of the parade over concerns they would be harassed while on the route.

KeshetUK and the West London Synagogue have been contacted for a response.

Mr Khan said: “I’m delighted that London’s diverse LGBTQI+ communities and allies are once again joining together in the heart of our capital for our world-renowned Pride celebrations and march of solidarity.”

The mayor was joined by Andrew Boff, a Conservative London Assembly member, and air quality campaigner Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah.

Some of those attending were there for the first time, such as Becky who told BBC London: “I’ve always supported other people but never really participated myself.

“I’m marching… to show diversity, to show that we’re not being minoritised.

“[I’m looking forward to] the friendship, people not judging you for who you are and just having a good party.”

The Metropolitan Police said on Saturday it had arrested 33 individuals in Westminster on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance.

A spokesperson for the force said hundreds of officers would be “policing in central London this weekend to keep everyone safe”, with an additional 75 on-duty Met LGBT+ network officers and staff “taking part in the parade, with the prior agreement of the Met”.

Ahead of the event Transport for London warned there may be disruption and Tube station closures.

It advised participants to arrive at Bond Street, Hyde Park Corner or Marble Arch stations, and encouraged customers who wish to watch the parade or attend events at Trafalgar Square or in Soho to arrive at Bond Street, Charing Cross, Embankment, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria or Westminster stations.

The parade started at Hyde Park at midday and finished at Trafalgar Square where live music, speeches and performances are taking place.

There were also other stages around the city, including Soho Square, Leicester Square and Victoria Embankment Gardens.