The Belgian Pride festival returned to the streets of Brussels on Saturday after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Marching under the slogan “The community is with you,” parade participants flew rainbow flags and called on people to reconnect after the pandemic.
“By walking together, we want to show the faces of the LGBTI+ community, our big and diverse Belgian LGBTI+ family,” Eva Declerck, program director at Ã§avaria, said in a statement before the parade.
Ã§avaria, a Flemish advocacy group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) community, organized the parade with Rainbowhouse Brussels and Prisme, two other rights groups.
The festival began at Mont des Arts in Brussels' city centre with a concert at 1 pm (1100 GMT) attended by several thousand people, the Belga press agency reported.
Belga said organizers expect some 100,000 people to take part in the parade.
The march is to follow a circular route around the city, passing Place de la Monnaie, Bourse and Quartier Saint Jacob before returning to Mont des Arts.
The parade's “Open” theme, a reference to the return of public gatherings, calls on the public and Belgian politicians to support the LGBTI+ community's pursuit of equality, organizers said.
The Belgian government's national plan to make the country more LGBTI+ friendly, launched on Tuesday, was a good start but greater action must follow, the statement said.
Ending the ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men and the addition of LGBTI+ phobia as an aggravating factor in criminal acts should be a priority, according to the organizers.