Largest Antwerp Pride Parade ever: "There is still a lot of intolerance"
With 65 delegations, the Antwerp Pride Parade is the largest so far, according to the organisation. The parade, which started at 2 p.m. on Saturday in scorching hot temperatures, aims to combine a positive message with protest. "There is still a lot of intolerance, especially towards the trans community", organiser Bart Abeel told Flemish public broadcaster VRT NWS. Additionally, the organisation wants to raise awareness about the monkeypox virus.
The participants of the parade gathered from 12 o'clock at Sint-Jansplein, to then proceed under police escort to the starting point of the parade near the Paardenmarkt. At 2 p.m. they left on a southwards trajectory toward the quays. In order to avoid overcrowding, the organisation is asking audience and participants to spread out well over the length of the route.
To help cool down the visitors of the Antwerp Pride Parade during this heat wave, the regional water company Water-link is providing water bars at four locations throughout the city, each with eight taps where everyone can fill up a bottle. There will also be misting on the terrain. The organisers also urge people to drink plenty of water, apply sun cream and wear a sun hat and sunglasses.
"There is as much chance of getting infected with the monkeypox virus or the coronavirus here as at any festival. So there is no reason not to come to the Pride"
"We celebrate the rights we already have, but those rights are not always a social reality yet. There is still a lot of intolerance, especially towards the trans community", organiser Bart Abeel told VRT NWS. "Towards LGBT people, too, there are still a lot of reservations or aversion among certain layers of the population. This sometimes leads to verbal or physical aggression."
Another challenge for the organisation this year is the monkeypox virus. "There is as much chance of getting infected with the monkeypox virus or the coronavirus here as at any festival. So there is no reason not to come to the Pride", Abeel stressed in his coments cited by VRT. "This is also what Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke says."
The organisation does, however, aim to raise awareness about monkeypox together with Sensoa, the Flemish expertise centre for sexual health. "We have no control over what goes on on the fringes of the festival."
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK