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Jubilant Ugandans join the disco as Brighton celebrates LGBTI pride

Jubilant Ugandans join the disco as Brighton celebrates LGBTI pride

A group of LGBTI Ugandans were the happiest people dancing in the Brighton Pride parade on the south coast of England today (2 August).

They were celebrating the Ugandan Constitutional Court’s decision to strike down the Anti-Homosexuality Act yesterday.

While homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda, the court’s decision removes one of the world’s most draconian pieces of anti-gay legislation.

Ugandan Edwin Sesange, director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, told GSN they were feeling ‘so, so proud’.

‘Even though the government is going to appeal the decision, our lawyers will do their best,’ he added.

‘Now we need to double our work and move on the level of acceptance people have for us.

‘We need people in Brighton and everywhere to support our LGBTI and other human rights organizations in Uganda.

‘Even if it is just on social media, we need them to spread the word. Put pressure on your government to put pressure on Uganda.’

Other countries which persecute LGBTIs weren’t forgotten either.

14 to 18-year-olds, from Out There LGBT Youth Group in Northampton, many of them attending their first pride, carried placards remembering 78 nations where homosexuality is criminalized.

Group organizer Dawn Wright told us: ‘Their families are from different parts of the world so they realize the significance of this.

‘One in particular is from Somalia and he is a gay young lad and his parents haven’t coped with it at all well. So for him to be carrying the placard with Somalia on it is an important moment.

‘They are goggle-eyed and open-mouthed at it all and loving it.’

They weren’t the youngest people in the march though. LGBTI parents paraded their toddlers in pushchairs to the cheers of the onlookers.

And the man who claims to be ‘the oldest gay in the village’ was welcomed just as warmly.

George Montague, 91, was recently sent a letter by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, congratulating him for his contribution to the LGBTI community.

But he recalled it wasn’t always this way.

At the age of 57, when the UK still persecuted gays, Montague was convicted of gross indecency. As a result, he was fired from the Scouts, where he was a senior leader.

He said: ‘A very young, enthusiastically homophobic, policeman lied in court. Predictably it was assumed I was a pedophile. I was dishonorably discharged from the movement I loved, man and boy, for 50 years.’

Companies getting involved this year included Barclays, Tesco and Nandos. Community organizations were also there in force, including the Rainbow Chorus, All Sorts Youth Project, Outdoor Lads, Student Pride and Terrence Higgins Trust.

The parade, which is just completing its winding route had a double theme this year.

The first, The World’s A Disco, was designed to encourage music and dance from around the globe. The second, Freedom to Live, highlights the plight of LGBTI people in places where they are discriminated against or criminalized.

This afternoon the celebrations continue with two main parties, despite heavy rain being forecast.

In Preston Park an all-day ticketed festival will see main-stage performances by lesbian favorite Heather Peace and X Factor winner Sam Bailey among others. Park-goers will also enjoy live cabaret, dance tents and more.

Meanwhile the annual informal party in Brighton’s gay village, around St James Street, has been cordoned off with entry charged for the first time. Organizers say this is for safety reasons and to cover cost of providing facilities for the crowds who pack the streets.

Brighton Pride is supported by Gay Star News. We will be handing out 2,500 free cotton tote bags, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and packed with goodies, in the park this afternoon. Come find us to claim yours.