Dublin Pride’s Response to Northwest LGBT Pride

To the Crew of NorthWest LGBT Pride:

Friends, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Dublin Pride I would like to acknowledge your letter and express our deep disappointment that you feel you cannot participate in the 30th anniversary celebration of Dublin Pride.

Having read the concerns you expressed I feel some clarification may help to relieve some of the misunderstandings which seem to have developed.  It should be noted that the registration form has actually been in existence for a number of years since the formation of Dublin Pride LGBTQ Ltd as a registered company.  If I may, I’d like to address each of your issues in turn

Receipt of registration does NOT necessarily confirm an entry.

Reading your objection to this clause would indicate that you believe we would use it to exclude members within the community.  Allow me to assure you that this is definitely not the case.  Any group, both within and external to the LGBT community, is perfectly entitled to register to take part in the parade.  This means that groups such as an anti-homosexual political party or a religious sect such as, for example,  a visiting contingent of the Westboro Baptist Church could conceivably register to walk in the Dublin Pride Parade.  Inclusion of such a group would obviously be an antithesis to the spirit of pride and Dublin Pride reserve the right to refuse such a group to participate.

This clause is in the registration form not to exclude anyone within the community but to protect the community from disruptive/detrimental external groups.  To date and to my knowledge this clause has never been enforced, nor has it needed to be, but as I said it is there to protect the community and the spirit of Pride

Parade theme

For a number of years the Dublin Pride festival has had a theme.  To actually have a parade is in itself a celebration of “Pride and the anniversary of the birth of the gay rights movement”.  We could simply have the same parade every year and fulfil this basic requirement however the application of a theme means that each year how we express that celebration changes, keeping it fresh and new and grabbing people’s attention and imagination. We also use a festival theme to focus on a current and important issue facing the Irish LGBT community at that time.  Past themes have included:

2008: “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”
2009: “Pride and Prejudice?”
2010: “We Are Family Too”
2011: “It’s a Human Thing”
2012: “Show your True Colours”

focusing on issues such as Marriage equality, parental rights, workplace discrimination

This year’s theme “Live, Love and be Proud” is, we feel, all-encompassing and was chosen in response to a community competition asking what people thought should be the message Dublin Pride wants to send to the LGBT community and to the wider world during this our 30th anniversary.

With regards to the taste and acceptability point it’s important to realise that Dublin Pride has grown both in size and in terms of our mandate.  We no longer see Dublin Pride as an exclusive LGBT festival, we feel that if we truly want equality then we must be open and embrace the wider community of family and friends.  That is why this year we are actively promoting a more family friendly attitude so that members of the LGBT community can feel comfortable bringing the people closest and most important to them to the parade as well.

Again, to date and to my knowledge no-one has ever found our themes restrictive nor felt the need to express themselves to a degree of bad-taste that we have ever had to remove someone from the parade.  While “taste” is a highly subjective term it is clear from past parades that the majority of the community are mature enough to know what is acceptable in modern Ireland.

Marching together and third party reassignment

As you rightly surmised this clause is totally about health and safety and legal compliance.  Dublin Pride festival is the second largest annual festival in Ireland with approx. 30,000 participants and over 100,000 spectators.  The logistics and requirements of running a festival of this size are extensive and our legal requirements restrictive.  Simply put – if we don’t meet the requirements laid down by our health and safety company and Dublin City Council we would not be allowed to run the festival at all.  Every group taking part in the parade must meet the minimum requirements in terms of stewards to protect those taking part in the parade.  Each steward MUST undergo training to ensure they know how to keep people safe and know the proper procedure in the event of something unexpected occurring – this is a legal requirement.  For this reason people cannot just jump in on the day unless there are a sufficient number of trained stewards for the combined group.  Likewise a group cannot be substituted with another unless Dublin Pride has confirmed they have received the necessary steward training.  I cannot honestly believe you seriously advocate putting people at risk or in danger for the sake of “spontaneity” nor do I accept that you believe you could simply arrive on parade day in London or Manchester or New York and just “Join in”?

Dublin Pride is a “not for profit “ organisation.  We have been a foundation of the community for 30 years and have grown from strength to strength.  The rules that are in place are necessary for the successful running of a festival of this size.  We seek corporate sponsorship only to fund the festival and to ensure as many events as possible (including the main post parade concert) remain free.  We do not seek sponsorship to make a profit.  We have always supported and are inclusive of all sectors within the LGBT community.

As always we appreciate all feedback.  Dublin Pride is constantly growing and adapting.  After the festival this year is over, we as a board will sit down again and review all our policies and procedures based on feedback from this year.  We will then, if necessary, change to meet the needs of the community so that subsequent festivals will improve year by year.

It is regrettable that you feel your integrity would be compromised by joining so many others from around the country in celebrating 30 years of Pride in Ireland with us.  I trust the points I have made will help to alleviate your concerns and we will happily welcome you should you choose to walk with us next year

[Signed by the Dublin Pride Committee]

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