This summer, Prides events across the world will mark fifty years since the Stonewall uprising.
That’s when brave members of the LGBT community in Manhattan stood up to police brutality and discrimination.
Millions of people will attend WorldPride in New York, EuroPride in Vienna, and UK Pride in Newry. Many more will attend approximately 1,000 Pride events around the world.
Some people think that organizing a Pride in Europe is a walk – or a mince – in the park. But last year opponents of LGBTI equality attempted to ban or thwart Prides in Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, and other countries.
In various towns and cities, Pride-goers were attacked, abused and insulted, including in countries like the UK. It’s only a matter of months since police arrested a man for planning a machete attack on a Pride in Cumbria.
I’m very lucky to be able to visit lots of Prides. One of my favorite aspects is the political element that almost all Prides rightly still put front and center.
And so in this big year for Pride, I want to recommend ten Prides in Europe where the protest and the political still has a vital importance. Attending any of these Prides will give you an unforgettable experience, and you’ll be showing much-needed support for LGBTI communities that often get forgotten.
1 Baltic Pride, Lithuania
Baltic Pride rotates between the three Baltic capital cities (Riga, Talinn and Vilnius) and this year returns to Vilnius from 4-9 June.
With two of these countries often appearing at the bottom of rankings of EU countries on LGBTI equality, Pride is an important show of strength and solidarity – and it’s growing.
Riga hosted EuroPride in 2015 with 3,000 participants. At Baltic Pride there last year, more than 10,000 people marched. At the last Baltic Pride in Vilnius in 2016, a large group of protestors hurled insults and eggs at us; let’s hope that there are many fewer this year.
2 Barents Pride, Norway
It’s fair to say that Norway is one of the safest and most equal countries for LGBTI people. In this Pride has a very important role for people just over their border with Russia.
Taking place in Kirkenes inside Norway’s Arctic Circle, Barents Pride is attended by LGBTI activists from Russia for whom the event is an essential, affirming opportunity to network – and also spend time in a welcoming, loving LGBTI community event. The date is yet to be confirmed – keep an eye on the EPOA calendar for details.
3 Belgrade Pride, Serbia
The Serbian capital’s first Pride took place almost twenty years ago, but until just a few years ago they were regularly met with violence and major counter-protests.
But things are changing, and last year the organizers opened a Pride House, open all year-round, and this year will put in a bid to host EuroPride in 2022.
Two attacks on the Pride House in the last three weeks remind us, though, that progress still needs to be made. The date for 2019 is still to be confirmed, but usually mid-September.
4 Brussels Pride, Belgium
The Belgian Pride, which takes place in Brussels on 18 May, might seem like a strange one to include on the list.
But it will take place just days before 500 million voters in 27 EU countries will go to the polls, at a time when right-wing and nationalist candidates will be threatening the LGBTI equality that so many Europeans now enjoy.
It’s also a great opportunity to push candidates to support ILGA-Europe’s Come Out campaign for the elections.
The Belgian Pride’s Parade takes in much of the city and attracts thousands of people. Events take place throughout the week. Yeah, it clashes with Eurovision, but…
5 Kyiv Pride, Ukraine
Kyiv’s Pride events have been marked by huge counter-protests from far right and nationalist groups. In 2016, the organization formally established itself and it now carries out a range of campaigning activity alongside organizing Pride and the Equality March.
Last year’s was the biggest Pride Ukraine has ever seen with 3,500 people marching, including a number of diplomats. It was also the most peaceful Kyiv Pride yet. Date TBA.
6 Prides in Poland
The LGBTI community and its allies in Poland are facing increasing opposition and hostility, and were devastated at the murder of their key ally, the mayor of Gdansk, a few weeks ago.
Last year, Prides in Lublin, Rzeszow and other cities faced serious political opposition and even attempts at banning them. There are more than 20 Prides in cities across Poland and whilst all went ahead, we expect the same opposition this year. The Queer.pl website lists them all.
7 Pride in Newry – UK & Ireland Pride 2019
Following the enormous successes of the first UK Prides in 2017 (Hull) and 2018 (Isle of Wight), this year the event has been awarded to Pride in Newry, in Northern Ireland.
The organizers have designated it UK & Ireland Pride, and it provides a great opportunity to focus on the many inequalities still faced by LGBTI people there. It runs from 26-31 August with the Parade on Saturday 31 August.
8 Skopje Pride, Macedonia
The Pride movement is growing in the Balkans. The North Macedonian capital Skopje will have its first Pride Parade in late May or early June.
There has been a Pride Week there since 2013, but this year the addition of the Parade will give much-needed visibility to the LGBTI community that’s often been a scapegoat for political opponents.
In addition, there’ll be a conference, a Trans Balkan art exhibition, workshops, movie presentations, and an awards ceremony. Date TBC – follow Subversive Front for updates.
9 Tbilisi Pride, Georgia
The most recent Prides in Tbilisi, several years ago now, were met with violence and brutality.
Pride returns to the Georgian capital this year from 18-23 June, thanks to a group of determined activists. There will be seminars and events and a march on Saturday 22 June.
Georgia’s location in the Caucasus – close to Azerbaijan, Iran, and Russian regions including Chechnya – means Tbilisi Pride has enormous strategic importance. Make sure you’re following them on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
10 Vienna Pride, Austria – EuroPride 2019
EuroPride 2019 promises to be a spectacular European commemoration of the Stonewall uprising fifty years ago.
Vienna hosts EuroPride from 1-16 June. Pride will include cultural events, seminars, parties, a human rights conference, and even a EuroPride 5k and 10k run.
The Rainbow Parade is on Saturday 15 June with visitors and participants expected from across Europe.
Prefer to stay closer to home?
Of course, not everyone likes traveling, and for some people, it’s out of reach for financial or other reasons.
The good news is that there are about 600 Prides in Europe, including more than 170 in the UK. Therefore, there’s likely to be one close to you. You can find Pride dates for the whole of Europe listed on the EPOA Pride Calendar.
Whichever Prides you visit, let’s make 2019 the biggest, loudest, most inclusive year. LGBTI rights are human rights, and Pride lies at the heart of our movement.
Staying safe: All of the locations listed should offer you a safe experience as an international visitor, but it’s vitally important that you check and comply with the travel advice from the Foreign Office (or the equivalent government ministry in your own country). It’s also essential to have travel insurance. It’s worth checking that your insurance covers participation in a Pride march, as these can be deemed political events or demonstrations.
Steve Taylor is a board member of EuroPride: European Pride Organisers Association, and Co-Founder of the UK Pride Organisers Network. Follow him on Twitter @danophile.