Opinion | The spirit of Copenhagen comes alive with Pride

Copenhagen’s mayor says that Pride Parade “brings out the best in our city”

I hope that everyone in Copenhagen – not least those of you who hail from abroad – will join me on the streets of the city on Saturday. I hope that you will all take part in the Copenhagen Pride parade and together with thousands of other revellers experience the exuberance, the vibrancy and the sense of community shared by the participants as they march from Frederiksberg City Hall to Copenhagen City Hall.

During the annual Pride Parade, Copenhagen shows its true colours to the world; it is a day when we show that we are a city that is open and tolerant and that we make room for everyone. We show others that tolerance is the foundation of community, and that diversity is a strength.

Pride Parade brings out the best in our city, and it makes me proud to live in Copenhagen. It makes being mayor truly the best job in the world.

For those of us living in Copenhagen, being able to publicly state how you feel about homosexuality is something we take for granted. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said to be true everywhere. Sexual minorities are persecuted, and not just in far-off corners of the world. It also happens in countries closer to home. Russia recently passed a law that makes public displays of homosexuality, or even public discussions about homosexuality, a crime. We also saw this summer the difficulties organisers in Vilnius, Lithuania had getting a permit to hold the Baltic Pride Parade. Sadly, Copenhagen itself is not immune; last week, a transgender woman was attacked in the city centre.

Some are concerned about a surging wave of hate targeted at homosexuals. Personally, I feel there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Homosexuals have the same rights to adopt as heterosexuals do. Artificial insemination is available to all. Most recently, the language of our marriage rite was changed, so that both a man and a woman and two people of the same gender are now wed as “spouses”. There is progress.

But those gains do not change the fact that sexual minorities face prejudice and, in the most extreme cases, they are the victims of hate crimes. It happens everywhere, including Copenhagen. That only gives us more reason to take part in the Pride festivities on Saturday. The more who attend, the clearer the signal we can send – whether it be to those who openly persecute sexual minorities, or to those who are biased in some small way.

Copenhagen is known for being open, tolerant and diverse. I urge everyone who cares for our city, and what it stands for, to join us on Saturday and show the world what it means to live in Copenhagen.

The author is the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen