On Saturday May 20th, Brussels Pride – The Belgian & European Pride will once again put the LGBTQIA+ community in the spotlight and decorate the streets of Brussels with the colors of the rainbow. This year the theme is “Protect the Protest”. A call to respect the fundamental right to protest, which is still too often violated throughout the world. From the Pride Parade and the Pride Village to the Rainbow Village, everything effort will be made to celebrate diversity and love without barriers.
Brussels opens Europe’s Pride season. The organizers expect no less than 150,000 people to march in defense of their rights and to celebrate diversity in the streets of Brussels. This year, Brussels Pride is, more than ever, keen to underline the importance of this event to ensure that the fundamental rights of the LGBTQIA+ community are maintained.
1. Protect the Protest
Demonstrating is a human right. Today, this right is subject to all kinds of pressures all over the world. In Europe as well. This year, Brussels Pride 2023 has chosen “Protect the Protest” as its theme, to emphasize that everyone, without hindrance or violence, can exercise this fundamental right.
It is illegal to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people. Our rights must be defended and laws enforced. A woman has the right to marry a woman. A male couple has the right to adopt a child. Transgender people have the right to have their gender identity legally recognized. In Belgium, these rights were won through protests that condemned the unacceptable discrimination and violence suffered by LGBTQIA+ people.
The LGBTQIA+ movement was born from struggle! It is our duty to remember the Stonewall riots in New York in the late 1960s. At the time, the Stonewall Inn’s gay, lesbian, bi, trans, queer customers protested against the recurrent raids of the bar by the police services. This event gave a voice to the LGBTQIA+ movement. In the wake of this event, numerous, much larger scale protests were organized on a much larger scale all over the world.
Today we aim to underline that the right to demonstrate, to protest and to express an opinion is essential and can be expressed in different ways! In the street, on social media and in companies, schools and institutions. However, this right is being violated around the world and the rights that have been hard won over the past decades are too often being called into question.
2. Pride Week: 10 to 19 May 2023
The traditional Mini-Pride on Wednesday 10 May 2023 marks the start of Pride Week. The procession will pass by Manneken-Pis, who’ll be dressed in a costume designed for the occasion. The procession will also pass Grands Carmes, a venue that will host 10 days of conferences, concerts, performances and inclusive sports activities organized by LGBTQIA+ activists, associations and collectives.
The Mini-Pride parade finishes at the LGBTQIA+ bars of the Saint- Jacques district. During Pride Week, an inclusive program will also be offered by cultural centres, museums and emblematic places in the Brussels-Capital Region.
3. Brussels Pride – The Belgian & European Pride Parade
Floats are making their long-awaited return to the Pride Parade. The parade sets off at 14:00 on the Mont des Arts and makes its way along the streets of the city centre, passing, of course, close to the unmissable Saint-Jacques district. This year, the parade will echo loudly to the theme of Brussels Pride: “Protect the Protest”, to claim the fundamental right to protest, which is too often flouted around the world.
4. The Pride Village
As every year, associations and institutions will be present. The associations will inform the public about their work and the current issues in terms of community rights at national and international level. The institutions will show their support to the community and their initiatives in favor of a more inclusive society, which is a daily struggle.
5. Two stages to celebrate and dance
LGBTQIA+ artists will be lighting up two stages in the centre of the capital. On the bill, among others, the Sing out Brussels Choir, DJ iNess, DJ Manz, DJ Shaft Crew and several candidates from Drag Race Belgium. Numerous other artists will be performing on the stages at the Mont des Arts and the Bourse. Needless to say, these concerts, DJ sets and performances are bound to be unforgettable.
The Rainbow Village and its LGBTQIA+ establishments, located in the Saint-Jacques district in the heart of the capital, are, once again, major partners of the event. In total, some one hundred partners, associations and artists will be contributing to the fight for a more open and tolerant society.
Brussels Pride is an inclusive event open to all. To ensure the safety and well-being of all, Safe Place and Safe Health zones will be present at several strategic locations. These areas are open to anyone who needs to take a break (Safe Place) or to be taken care of by medical staff in case of discomfort and/or to report any inappropriate or offensive behavior regarding their gender and/or identity (Safe Health).
The cultural sector is joining the event and programming LGBTQIA+ artists and projects in collaboration with Brussels Pride – The Belgian & European Pride. The Design Museum Brussels, among others, presents its Brussels Queer Graphics exhibition, produced in collaboration with the Structure for Interdisciplinary Research on Gender, Equality and Sexuality (STRIGES). The exhibition highlights the visual language of the LGBTQIA+ communities in Brussels, from the 1950s to today.
In the week leading up to Brussels Pride, many buildings across the Brussels-Capital Region will be illuminated and decorated in the colors of the rainbow flag.
Brussels Pride – The Belgian & European Pride is an opportunity to celebrate diversity but also to defend and demand LGBTQIA+ rights, all with the aim of making society more inclusive and egalitarian. Brussels Pride is an opportunity to assert the rights and claims of the community and re-launch the political debate.