Around 200 people attended the “Belgian Pride Kick-Off” on Friday evening. Belgian Pride Kick-Off is the smaller parade that launches the Belgian Pride Festival. The Festival will end on the 20th of May.
Accompanied by the Meyboom brass band, the giant rainbow flag waving participants marched from Brussels Town Hall to the Manneken-Pis. A few years ago, Manneken-Pis was given a special costume by the famous French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. Several buildings, including the Town Hall, were lit up in the colours of the rainbow.
Before the parade there were speeches at the Town Hall around this year’s theme of ‘Your Local Power”. Those who gave speeches included Brussels mayor Philippe Close, Equal Opportunities Minister for Brussels Bianca Debaets, former Councillor Ans Persoons (sp.a) and MP Pascal Smet, a member of the College for the Flemish Community Commission (VGC) which dictates city policy.
Two speeches about the inclusion efforts in Brussels mentioned the recent attack on two men who were walking hand in hand in the centre of Brussels. “Brussels is in a proactive dynamic to fight discrimination”, says Cyrille Prestianni, the President of Belgian Pride and the Wallonia Rainbow Federation. “Philippe Close said this violence was unacceptable and measures would be taken. There will be elections in a few months. With this year’s theme, I want to spread the message that local authorities have a real role to play in the fight against discrimination. We want to tell people they can make a difference and want to encourage them to read the candidate’s manifestos and propositions”.
There will be various debates, exhibitions, film projections and other events over the two weeks of the festival. There will a march to mark the 2012 murder of Ihsane Jarfi on the 17th of May, which will leave the Place de la Monnaie at 5pm. Belgian Pride will close the Festival on the 19th of May. With nearly 70 delegations from other countries in attendance, it will be particularly big this year. For the first time, there will be floats from the ULB and the VUB in the cortege.