Christian groups turned out in strength at the July 4 Pride festival in London, affirming their support for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
A number of Christian organisations ran stalls in Trafalgar Square, while the nearby Anglican church of St Martin's in the Fields raised the rainbow flag from its roof to flutter over the celebrations.
“I think there are a lot of Christians at Pride this year” said Pastor Carmen Margarita Sanchez De Leon of the Metropolitan Community Church. “We need to open our Church to everybody”.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Ruby Almeida of Quest, a group for lesbian and gay Catholics. She told Ekklesia that it was important for Christian groups to be visible at Pride.
“We want people to know we are here and that there's a space for people to talk about their faith and their sexuality” she said.
Other Christian organisations present included the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) and the Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship (QLGF). Jewish and Muslim groups also took part in the festival.
Not everyone felt the same. A small group of Christians – estimated by the BBC to number around thirty – held signs saying that homosexuality is against the will of God and addressed the thousands of participants through a loudspeaker.
However, there were clearly far more Christians taking part in Pride than protesting against it.
Others present welcomed the involvement of religious movements. Saxey, a campaigner at the Bisexual Index stand, told Ekklesia that she was pleased to see Christians at Pride but disappointed that some Christians remained prejudiced, for example assuming that bisexuality involved infidelity.
The festival began with a march of thousands of people through central London before the rally and celebrations in Trafalgar Square. Messages of support were received from the London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown was criticised by the veteran human rights activist Peter Tatchell for not legislating to put gay marriage on an equal footing with heterosexual marriage. Tatchell founded the first London Pride events in the 1970s.
The marchers included London's deputy mayor Richard Barnes, who said “It's not just enough to be out and proud today. We have to be out and proud every day”.
For many Christians, the mood of the day was summed up by the badges and stickers they wore at the festival, quoting 1 John 4,18: “Love drives out fear”.