Dozens of Labour Party members from all parts of Southend and beyond travelled to Warrior Square yesterday (Saturday 20th July) to show their support for Southend Pride. The Southend Labour banner was just one of many other organisations on display during the traditional march down the High Street, and in Warrior Square the party ran a popular stall advertising our commitment to LGBT rights.

The Leader of Southend Council, Cllr Ian Gilbert said: “It’s been a pleasure to be here at Southend Pride today. This is a joyous festival of everyone’s rights to be who they want to be and to love who they want to love. But of course, there’s a serious message as well because there’s still too many people suffer from bigotry, from hatred and intolerance. But this is our chance to show people that love will always be stronger than hate, and that love will conquer in the end.”

Ashley Dalton, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Rochford & Southend East, expressed what the celebrations meant to her: “Today is an amazing day for Southend Pride. It’s really special to me personally because as an LGBT person it’s really meaningful to see so many people come out and support our community and the town as a whole, and support people’s rights to love who they love, and for equality and freedom for all of us. And many people think that we’ve already got that, and there are so many instances we haven’t even got full equality in the whole of the UK yet, and all across the globe there are people through them being gay, or lesbian, or transgender is illegal and they face imprisonment for that. And we’ve heard most recently of people being killed for their sexuality. But today is all about celebration; it’s about celebrating the freedoms that we have, and about protesting and campaigning for the freedoms yet to come,”

Labour Councillor for Blenheim Park Laurie Burton also stressed how much still has to be done: “A lot of people say ‘what’s the point of Pride?’ ‘Why do you still need it’; ‘haven’t you got marriage’; ‘you can do what you want’; ‘you’ve got your rights’. And the answer is “no, we haven’t”. In Northern Ireland you still can’t get married; people suffer LGBT hate crimes quite regularly; friends I know last week, especially the trans community, on the trains got abused. So this still happens; there are still spaces that we can’t go; and on a bus last week we saw about the lesbians getting beaten up for refusing to kiss. And education, so although we have got rights and a lot of schools are teaching students about LGBT relationships, those rights, there are groups trying to take those away. And it’s happening in Birmingham, and it will happen around the country, if we don’t stand up and show solidarity to show that we’re not going anywhere, we’re standing strong and we won’t be beaten.”

Sam Adams, the Co-Chair of Southend Pride and LGBT Officer for Southend West Labour Party, said: “Today is an amazing day at Southend Pride 2019 – the numbers are brilliant, we’ve got loads of people here, loads of stalls, we’ve got entertainment all day long until 8 o’clock. And it’s just amazing that community feeling that we have here today. And it just makes you proud to be part of Southend and this community.”

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