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Police lead London's gay parade

Metropolitan Police's Commander Brian Paddick joins other openly gay police officers as they march through central London
Metropolitan Police's Commander Brian Paddick joins other openly gay police officers as they march through central London

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LONDON, England -- Europe's biggest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender festival was led by uniformed police officers for the first time.

About 60,000 people were estimated to be taking part in the 1.5 million festival, including police who were allowed to march in their uniforms.

Campaigners hailed the landmark as a "sea change" in police attitudes toward the gay community.

The thousands who were taking to the streets on the Pride Parade, dubbed the Pink Parade, hail the event as a celebration of sexuality, with pop stars Liberty X and aging 80s stars Bananarama among the bands performing in Hyde Park.

Britain's most senior police officer was urging gays and lesbians to join the force in a video message to be played at the festival.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens was appealing to festival-goers attending the parade to consider a career in the force and help cut homophobic attacks.

Marchers were waving banners celebrating political struggle and human rights successes over 40 years of campaigning.

Organizer Jason Pollock said: "The Pride Parade is our day to demonstrate for what we have still to achieve. We still have a long way to go to get what is rightfully ours in society."


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