This year’s Belgian Pride took over the centre of Brussels on Saturday, with an estimated 100,000 people attending or taking part, among them former prime minister Elio Di Rupo. However the event was marred by an attack by counter-demonstrators on a float organised by the Flemish nationalist party N-VA. The party is seen by some as being discriminatory regarding the LGTB community.
“We are organising a festival for diversity and we will not tolerate – and we do condemn – any act of physical and verbal violence,” said a spokesperson for the event’s organisers. “It is important for everyone to feel welcome, and for us to listen to each other,” he said.
N-VA junior minister Theo Francken later tweeted that his party had been awarded a silver medal for its protection of gay rights, and blamed the disruption on “leftists”.
Meanwhile the event, the 23rd Pride march, attracted close to 100,00o people from across the land and elsewhere. This year’s event was themed “Your Local Power” as the country runs up to next year’s municipal elections.
“This message is very important because the local elections will soon take place,” event spokesperson Elio De Bolle told Le Soir. “We have a number of proposals, among them the nomination of an alderman for equal opportunities in every municipality. When we see the number of political parties taking part in our march, we can’t avoid seeing how important they take these matters.”