Pride 2017: Thousands of people to descend on central London for annual parade

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Thousands of people will descend on London on Saturday for the annual Pride parade.

The march, now in its 45th year, will begin at 1pm at Portland Place, passing through Oxford Circus and Regent Street, before ending at Whitehall.

Marking 50 years since homosexuality was legalised in the UK, the theme in 2017 is ‘Love Happens Here’.

Pride organisers said they are more than ever promoting a “message of hope, acceptance, activism and love,” with London Mayor Sadiq Khan adding: “Here in London, you’re free to love whoever you want to love and be whoever you want to be.”

A rainbow flag will be projected on to the Palace of Westminster for the first time in celebration of the event, and the Parliament building will also be lit up in rainbow colours as part of the celebrations.

Meanwhile some of the transport network’s busiest stations have been adorned with the colourful design for the campaign that champions the rights of the LGBT+ community.

High street shops and pavements have been splashed with the same pattern as Londoners celebrate half a century since homosexuality was legalised in the UK.

Posters carrying the message ‘Love is Love’ have been pasted above entrances to the busy Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations.

It comes amid heightened security at the event following recent terror attacks in the capital, with armed police on patrol through central London and concrete roadblocks in place to guard against a London Bridge-style attack.

More than 150 police officers will take part in the parade, alongside representatives from the London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade and British Transport Police.

The Met said it had been working closely with Pride in London and a detailed policing plan had been put in place.

Chief Superintendent Helen Millichap said: “We know that recent events in London and Manchester will cause people to worry.

“As with any large event the Met’s priority is public safety and we are working closely with the organisers in the lead up to Pride to develop our policing plan.

“We want Pride to be a friendly and safe event for everyone to enjoy and, to help us, we need the public to take the usual precautions by remaining vigilant and reporting anything of concern to police officers or stewards at the event.”

Plain clothes officers are also set to patrol the event, with the Met having worked with organisers over the past few months to prepare security measures.

Met Commisioner Cressida Dick said the celebrations would “look and feel a bit different this year”.

Last year’s parade drew about one million people to the capital’s streets, with 40,000 partaking in the official parade.

The first official march in 1972 saw 2,000 men and women take part.

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