The Minister said: “Over the years, as a supporter of Pride, I have been heartened to see it grow and develop from a small event into one of Belfast’s biggest festivals. The LGBT community has, together with other progressive people across society, courageously faced down bigotry and inequality.
“Today Pride stands as a city-wide celebration of the LGBT community. It is a friendly, fun, inclusive festival, which brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. It also reflects an increasingly vibrant, tolerant and diverse city.”
Usually held in August, the 2013 Pride events were moved forward by a month to facilitate the World Police and Fire Games.
The Minister continued: “Belfast Pride is supported by DCAL’s Community Festivals Fund. Also the LGBT community has a strong tradition of creative expression through arts and culture. As Minister I want to acknowledge and applaud this, and pledge my continued support for initiatives from and for the gay community.
“But today is an opportunity for Belfast to celebrate the positive social, economic, cultural and creative value of the LGBT community in they city's civic life, and most of all to celebrate the fine tradition of equality which must be at the heart of our society going forward. Pride is a festival which Belfast can genuinely be proud of."