London Pride, this weekend, ends the month-long celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) community. To make this year’s celebration even more exciting, 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which  partially decriminalised homosexuality. This was Britain’s first step in establishing LGBTQ rights, a step that finally culminated in full legalisation, in 2013.

Pride fights discrimination and violence towards LGBTQ people with a very public and positive celebration. It is hugely beneficial to the mental wellbeing of those in the LGBTQ community, as well as those outside it, as it encourages open-mindedness, honesty and love. Pride welcomes not only those in the community, but everyone who wishes to join in, including heterosexuals and families. It provides an opportunity for everyone to unite and celebrate, in places that would not usually flaunt their support for the community so casually.

Pride, however, is not just about celebrating, it is also a political platform. A platform from which a united, passionate front can be projected internationally to prove just how abominably wrong the present worldwide injustices made against the LGBTQ community are.

No one should hide who they are, or pretend to be anything else. Everyone deserves the freedom to be whoever they want to be and love whoever they want. London Pride released a video at the beginning of Pride month, reclaiming the tag #nofilter to represent the philosophy to be proud to be your true self.

The persecution of the LGBTQ community in Britain is long, spanning centuries. However, not all members were persecuted equally. Sex between men was criminalised in 1885, while sodomy was made illegal under Henry VIII’s reign in 1533. Women, on the other hand, were relatively ignored, with sex between women never having been criminalised. Astonishingly, the year 2000 marked the year when the government introduced the first age of consent for lesbian sex.

These facts highlight just how far Britain has come in support of the LGBTQ community, but they barely scratch the surface of the atrocities the community has suffered through the years. It is this history that enables the celebration of Pride across the UK, and it should not be forgotten or taken for granted. Pride is an amazing opportunity that encourages everyone to not only be themselves, but to be proud of who they are.

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