PSNI confirms officers in uniform will not participate in this year's Pride parade in Belfast

No police officers in uniform will participate in this year’s Pride parade through Belfast, the PSNI has announced.
Members of the PSNI and Garda join the Pride parade as it makes it's way through Belfast city centre. Photo: PA Members of the PSNI and Garda join the Pride parade as it makes it's way through Belfast city centre. Photo: PA
Members of the PSNI and Garda join the Pride parade as it makes it's way through Belfast city centre. Photo: PA

In a statement, a spokesperson said the PSNI’s senior executive team has taken a decision that officers will “still attend and participate in Belfast Pride events,” but not walk with the thousands of participants on July 29 from Custom House Square.Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton, Gold Commander for Belfast Pride, said: “Having personally engaged with members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a number of events in recent months and met with our own LGBT+ Network on this issue, I know that this decision will come as a disappointment to some.

“As a Police Service, we have had to carefully consider this request from our LGBT+ Network on its merits, the stated purposes and circumstances surrounding the parade and our statutory obligations to act with fairness, integrity and impartiality, whilst upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all individuals, their traditions and beliefs.”

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ACC Singleton add ed: “Our broader participatio n in this and other Pride events continues to be an important element of our outreach and engagement highlighting the valuable role that LGBTQIA+ officers and staff play in our service, that we are an employer and service for all and that hate crime in whatever form is wrong.”

Police service policy on ‘off duty standards’ and the Code of Ethics, create clear expectations for all officers and staff in terms of impartiality – prohibiting officers from wearing their uniform, or being identifiable as police employees, when engaging in what the PSNI describes as “cause issues”.

The force has faced criticism in recent years for permitting a PSNI delegation, in uniform, to walk in support of a cause that utilises “political” messaging – including successfully lobbying for changes to the laws around same-sex marriage. PSNI officers first walked in the parade in uniform in 2017.

This year the theme is ‘Stand by Your Trans’.The Pride website states: “Belfast Pride and the Belfast Pride festival are unapologetically trans inclusive. Trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people have helped lead and shape not only the Pride movement, but the wider LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement, and are an integral part of our community and wider society.

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“In 2022-2023 the PSNI reported a 24% increase in the number of transphobic hate crimes in Northern Ireland, and research consistently shows a high level of under-reporting. Across the UK media and wider social media, we have seen an exponential increase in transphobia as well as homophobia, biphobia and sexism directed towards trans, non-binary and gender- diverse people and those who support them”.

In a social media post, the PSNI’s LGBT+ Network said it was “bitterly disappointed” at the decision, and added: “Being visible as a public service in Pride parades inspired hundreds of LGBT+ people to take up policing as a career, it let our communities know that we stood beside them against hate crime & discrimination”.

“The statement goes on to say: “It has not been made clear to us what has changed for this year, or why previously agreed forms of Pride participation have now been withdrawn by the senior executive team”.