Pride festivals will face ‘inevitable’ cancellation or delay due to coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of members of the LGBTQ community gathered today for the Birmingham Pride parade in May 2019

Pride festivals across Europe are facing the prospect of cancellation due to the threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pride season, due to kick off in June, is likely to be impacted if measures are put in place to restrict large public gatherings amid the outbreak – which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation on Wednesday.

Organisers of Pride events across the continent joined an online meeting on Monday to discuss contingency plans for the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus disruption to Pride festivals is now ‘inevitable’.

Kristine Garina, president of the European Pride Organisers Association, said that it is “inevitable” that events will face “cancellation, curtailment or postponement”.

She said: “Coronavirus is presenting a new challenge for all governments and organisations, and Prides are no different.

“The unique challenge for Prides is that most are entirely volunteer organisations, where people have to juggle this additional complexity alongside a career or being a full-time carer. We’re doing all we can to help Pride organisers navigate through this challenge.”

She added: “It is ironic that over the last few decades various politicians, presidents, prime ministers, mayors, archbishops and other bigots have done their best to thwart and cancel Pride parades, but it was mother nature who succeeded.

“The admirable resilience of Pride organisers has met a challenge for the health of our wider community, and that means that some events will inevitably face cancellation, curtailment or postponement.”

Coronavirus: A float seen during the Pride in London parade.

A float seen during the Pride in London parade. (Photo by Pietro Recchia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Event organisers are contingency planning for pandemic restrictions.

Trans Pride Scotland, which was set to take place on March 28, was the first casualty – with organisers announcing on Wednesday the event had been scrapped due to “rising concerns about coronavirus.”

A spokesperson said: “It would be irresponsible of us to ignore the potential risks for transmission that could arise from facilitating this public event. We are deeply disappointed and very sorry about any inconvenience this may cause and we hope you can understand our reasoning.”The first major UK pride festival this year is Birmingham Pride on May 23, while Pride in London is set to take place on June 27 – with other events due to take place across July, August and September.

A Pride in London spokesperson told PinkNews:  “We are paying close attention to the latest advice from the World Health Organisation and the UK government around coronavirus.

“Though the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the country from low to moderate, the current guidance is that the risk to individuals remains low.

“In line with our duty to safeguard the event, we will be working closely with our production partners and the authorities to ensure we have considered any risks to the Parade. Our priority is keeping all attendees safe and secure, and we will be following the advice of Public Health England to ensure this.”

A spokesperson for Brighton and Hove Pride, which will take place in August, told PinkNews: “While the current situation regarding COVID-19 is concerning, with August being several months away we will not be taking any immediate action other than contingency planning and will continue to work with our partner agencies to plan to deliver a safe and successful event.

“If government and WHO advice changes then we will implement appropriate plans in accordance with those guidelines.

“We review our position on a regular basis and will likely to make a final decision by early to mid July as to whether we would implement a postponement plan, but on current advice we are optimistic that Brighton Pride will go ahead.”

“Brighton and Hove Pride is an important community fundraising event for our city and at this stage our planning will continue as normal.”

Ste Dunn, chair of Northern Pride, told PinkNews: “While we are aware of the concerns about public events in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, UK Pride is not due to take place until July and we will be reviewing the situation as and when new information comes in.

“We will continue to take advice from Newcastle City Council and Public Health England.”

Dublin Pride festival director Jed Dowling said in a statement: “Dublin Pride is working closely with the Department of Health, the HSE, Dublin City Council and our international Pride colleagues in the planning of our annual Pride parade currently scheduled for June 27.

“The board and management of Dublin Pride are very mindful of the current situation regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) and of our responsibility to act in the best interests of the community.

“We will follow all advice given by the relevant authorities and are contingency planning for the possibility that the date may need to move out.”

PinkNews has also requested comment from the organisers of Birmingham Pride and Manchester Pride on whether contingencies have been put into place.