Image: Sam Portillo

Thousands flock to celebrate Pride Cymru 2023 as UN praises Wales for LGBTQ+ rights

It is the first such event since the Census recorded sexuality and gender identity

THOUSANDS flocked to Cardiff this weekend for the annual Pride Cymru event which included entertainment at Cardiff Castle for the first time.

The parade started at 11am on Saturday, in a sea of rainbow flags and colourful dress.

It is the first national pride event in Wales since the results of the UK Census 2021 — the first to let people record their gender identity and sexual orientation.

More than 77,000 respondents in Wales said they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, or another minority sexuality, equating to 3% of all aged 16 or over.

Cardiff had the highest percentage in Wales at 5.3%.

Pride Cymru started as Cardiff Mardi Gras in 1999 in response to a rise in hate crime and moved from Bute Park to City Hall Lawns in 2017 due to a clash with the Champions League final.

This is the first time Cardiff Castle plays host to Pride Cymru celebrations with performances from, among others, Sophie Ellis-Bextor on Saturday night and Ian ‘H’ Watkins from Steps on Sunday.

The celebrations take place after the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity praised the work of the Welsh Government in addressing LGBTQ+ rights.

The Welsh Government wants Wales to be the friendliest nation in Europe for LGBTQ+ people. A key part of its action plan is ensuring better inclusion and opportunity in sport for LGBTQ+ people.

Charlotte Galloway set up Cardiff Dragons FC to provide exactly this chance.

“For us, it’s the main time to meet people in the wider community, show them that LGBTQ+ sports clubs exist and need to exist,” Ms Galloway told The Cardiffian.

“Lots of queer people are put off sport at school because of prescriptive behaviour and norms. At a club like the Dragons, this is completely deconstructed. Everyone can come as they are and they’re accepted,” she said.

This year, Ms Galloway set up LGBTQ+ Sports Network Wales to coordinate work between similar clubs.

“Hopefully, policymakers will hear us when they realise we are united regardless of sport and geography,” she said.

WalesOnline named Ms Galloway as the 26th most influential LGBT+ person in Wales today on their latest Pinc List.

Hannah Blythyn MS, the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, attended Saturday’s parade with First Minister Mark Drakeford, Minister for Education Jeremy Miles and other Welsh Labour colleagues.

Ms Blythyn said: “As a government, we’re committed to championing and supporting inclusivity – within our cultural life, in our communities and throughout our country.

“The UN praise for our LGBTQ+ Action Plan and ambition to become the most LGBTQ+ friendly nation in Europe is humbling but I very much recognise there remains work to be done and that Pride events still have an important part to play across our nation.”