Equality Rally photographs

  

All photos on this page taken by me but copyright BBC.co.uk/jersey 

On Saturday thousands of people arrived in St Helier’s West Centre, gathering around the bronze cow statues to mark the start of the island’s first Pride Parade.

A riot of colour, laughter and music, the event saw more than 3,000 people parade through the streets of St Helier, led by a vintage open top bus.

On the bus, with organisers and politicians were English actress, musician and LGBT rights activist Heather Peace and others.

One of the organisers, Christian May, vice-chairman of campaign group Liberate, said he was amazed at the turnout and involvement of both businesses and community groups.

  
   

  

 Speaking after the parade he said: “Growing up an openly gay man I never thought I’d see anything like this in Jersey. I’m amazed at how far the island has come.”

On the order of chief minister, Senator Ian Gorst, Rainbow flags were flown from all government buildings in Jersey on the day.

The island has come a long way in a relatively short time.

Jersey first legalised same-sex sexual activity in 1990, introduced a gender recognition law in 2010 and introduced civil partnerships and same sex adoption in 2012.

   
    
 In two weeks the government will debate the introduction of equal marriage, which is not only likely to be approved but once it has gone through law drafting, will be law by 2017.

While things are changing fast, not everything is perfect yet.

Jersey’s only openly gay politician says he still receives anonymous hate mail because of his sexuality.

Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf said even though there were still homophobic undercurrents the island had come a long way in bringing equality to all regardless sexual orientation.

   

   
 Mr Ozouf said: “It is those people who say I have a lot of gay friends but, then attempt to justify why same sex couples should be treated differently.

“It is the hidden homophobia, like xenophobia and islamaphobia that needs to be understood.

“We are a diverse community and I compliment the organizers for putting on an event in celebration of what modern Jersey is today.

This was a coming together of the two largest Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, in a celebration of equality, love and togetherness. It was a community at large showing it had moved on and was now embracing all and everyone.

The next CI Pride parade will be held in Guernsey and should then be in Jersey the year after. Although Christian May says there may be a separate parade in Jersey in 2016 to “keep the momentum going”.

     
 

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