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Rainbow colours fill Casemates for Pride

The colours of the rainbow filled Casemates on Saturday as Gibraltar rallied around a message of equality and inclusivity.

June is Pride month and saw members of the LGBTQ+ community alongside people from across the Rock mark the event on Saturday, which underscored the Pride message of acceptance and inclusion, not merely tolerance.

The occasion saw a march up main street, as well as entertainment, speeches, stalls, and music throughout the day.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo was the first speaker to address those in attendance and said: “It’s a pleasure to be here at Casemates celebrating Pride 2023.”

“It’s a pleasure to see so many people supporting you and it’s a pleasure to see that we can do this so naturally and so normally.”

“Whilst I have breath in my body, whilst I am alive and living in this great Rock of ours, no one will be ever to change that back.”

“And let’s not think that we’re out of the woods, let’s not pretend that there are people who would not stand against us, let us not forget that we still have to persuade people that it’s about acceptance, not tolerance.”

“It’s about respect, not tolerance.”

“We still have a lot of minds to change,” he added.

Mr Picardo added that he was grateful for and thanked Marlene Hassan Nahon, who recently announced her departure from politics, for her “positive influence” and support in championing the Pride message throughout her time in politics.

The Mayor of Gibraltar, Carmen Gomez spoke of the importance of respect.

Speaking of her time in theatre both locally and abroad, she said differences such as sexual orientation “never formed any part of conversation between us, because for us it was never a question of tolerance it was a question of acceptance.”

“My motto has always been live and let live, which encompasses anyone and everyone.”

She encouraged everyone in attendance to embrace their differences and be themselves, highlighting the importance of diversity.

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi described the occasion as “fantastic”.

He said: “I am proud to be here today, I am proud that today we may disagree about many things but today we have a political united front on this issue of respect and acceptance.”

“Pride is a movement not just today but beyond today.”

“We do not turn back the clock on rights, rights have been obtained and we will not turn back the clock on those rights while I am the GSD leader.”

“I believe in a progressive, modern vision for Gibraltar and that is my pledge.”

Executive of Together Gibraltar, Nick Calamaro, said it was “great” to see the rainbow colours fill Casemates.

He said: “In Gibraltar we understand the power of diversity and how it strengthens our community.”

“It’s that diversity that’s allowed us to get to where we are today.”

Mr Calamaro underscored the importance of the numerous flags that are associated with Pride in allowing people to associate with their identity, as well as the more widely known standard rainbow flag.

He assured those in attendance that no matter who leads Together Gibraltar, the rights and inclusion of members of the LGBTQ+ community will be championed by the party.

Minister for Equality, Samantha Sacramento, who has been in the post since 2011, said the occasion was “wonderful”.

Ms Sacramento told the Chronicle that “It was an amazing feeling to see not only that a Pride event has been organised and organised so well, but seeing so many people supporting it because something like this wouldn’t have happened not that long ago.”

Speaking to those in attendance, she highlighted the importance of progression, and leaving behind the days which would see such occasions unable to take place.

She said: “For as long as there is even one person in Gibraltar who is not respected because of their sexual orientation, Pride and the work that we do is necessary.”

“This is not about tolerance, this is about acceptance, this is about love.”

“It is important to send this message, it is important that we are visible.”

Chairperson of the LGBTQ+ committee, Lorraine Olivera, who was supported on stage by her stepson spoke of various pieces of legislation in different countries globally which criminalises members of the LGBTQ+ community.

She said: “I always felt lucky living in Gibraltar where it’s safe; safe from imprisonment, safe from hate crimes and safe from persecution.”

“Sadly though, we are not safe, not safe from words.”

“Words can sometimes cause the most Damage.”

“So, my message to you today is acceptance, not tolerance,” she added.

She said being part of the LGBTQ+ community is not a choice despite some members of the local community believing so.

The speeches were followed by a march up Main Street which saw a large rainbow flag on display, reminding those in attendance to love and accept.

The occasion lasted throughout the day with live music and entertainment.

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