Here at the British Embassy, we’re always hosting events: from high-level foreign policy discussions to Embassy Open House days. Yet few events draw as much enthusiasm from our corner of Embassy Row as Capital Pride. For months, we meticulously plan our festivities, brainstorm our float theme, and gather our most fashionable rainbow-themed accessories.
Last year, more than 100 Embassy staff and friends marched with our trolley, emblazoned with our global campaign, “Love is GREAT.” This year, we expect even more people to join us at Capital Pride as we celebrate D.C.’s LGBT community.
Across the United States, our consulates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, as well as the UK Mission to the UN, will be hosting Pride activities or marching in local Pride parades.
On the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and on the 40th anniversary of Capital Pride, the British Embassy is hugely proud of the steps we’re taking to promote LGBT rights in the UK and around the world.
A leader in human rights, the UK tops the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s list of most gay-friendly countries in Europe.
We’ve had civil partnerships for almost a decade, and equal marriage for more than a year.
Our military is rated the second most gay-friendly in the world.
And, in a widely supported move, the mathematician behind the film “Imitation Game,” Alan Turing, received a royal pardon.
While The Advocate recently described Washington as “The Gayest City in America,” London is giving its American friends a run for their money.
Visitors from around the world are flocking to Britain as the #4 destination worldwide for LGBT travel – and for good reason. The home of Elton John, Virginia Woolf, Dusty Springfield and Oscar Wilde has so much to offer –from LGBT-friendly romantic getaways to world-renowned nightlife.
Selfridges, the renowned British retailer, recently opened a gender-neutral shopping space, where you can get kitted out in a kilt, no matter your gender.
And of course, we have our own parties and festivals dotted across the British Isles. The jewel in the crown is Pride in London, where as many as 30,000 people march proudly by landmarks such as Number 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament.
Even as we celebrate the progress we are making at home, there are many places around the world where people are persecuted for who they love.
Britain, like the U.S., has come a long way in the fight for equality. I hope that the example set in the UK, and increasingly around the U.S., will encourage other countries to follow suit. To allow love to be love, whoever it is between. In the end, that’s what Pride is all about.
So I hope you’ll join us next week as we proudly celebrate the differences that make us unique, and the love that binds us all, regardless of age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Patrick Davies is deputy head of mission at the British Embassy.