Thousands enjoy a celebration of the lesbian and gay community at the Belfast Pride Parade while two small groups protest.

The sun shone, and Belfast was in a celebratory mood for Belfast Pride.  Over 5000 people marched in this year’s parade, a huge increase in numbers since the inaugural parade in 1991 when 100 people were involved.  

Recent controversial comments by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of Parliament (MP) Iris Robinson regarding the gay and lesbian community are reinforced by small groups of protesters, one of whom is Free Presbyterian Minister Reverend David MacIlveen, 

This departure from God’s word brings darkness and it brings damnation.

A poster criticising Iris Robinson is taken down from one of the floats at the request of police, and while there were some exchanges between marchers and protesters, no trouble was reported.  

Most people, including onlookers, were just enjoying the parade and a day out.  The Reverend Chris Hudson from All Souls Unitarian Church expresses his delight at the reception of the gay and lesbian community by the people of Belfast,

I think it’s the metamorphosis of Belfast, I think Belfast is a wonderful city, a great city with great people.  And you can see here the welcoming that people are getting, that the gay community are getting on the streets of Belfast.  It’s a changing city, full of hope and full of joy.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 August 2008.  The reporter is Michael Fisher.