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    Antwerp Pride marked by threats and record attendance

    ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga
    ©Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

    This year’s edition of Antwerp Pride, the 11th, attracted between 60,000 and 100,000 participants, according to organisers and police. But the event was marred by threats issued beforehand on Twitter, whose author was later arrested. “I’m very pleased with the turnout,” declared Pride spokesperson Wilfried Eetezone. “We in the gay and transgender community have been organising a festival for everyone in Antwerp. We celebrate diversity, and reach out a hand to other communities. Everyone is welcome.”

    And he recalled an incident in Ghent earlier in the week in which two men were attacked with a bicycle lock and seriously injured by a man and a woman. Both attackers were arrested, but the woman was later released.

    “What happened in Ghent shows that it’s still important to fight for equal treatment of gays and transgenders,” Eetezone said.

    The festivities started on Thursday, culminating in the parade on Saturday. Taking part were city dignitaries, delegations from other cities and even police officers in uniform, carrying placards which read #proudtobeyourfriend.

    During the parade, a 39-year-old man taking part was assaulted by two gay-bashers. Meanwhile earlier in the week another man posted threatening messages on Twitter. When police visited him at his home, they found Nazi paraphernalia and a number of illegal knives. The man claimed he was protesting at the closure of city streets to allow the parade to take place.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times