Merseyside Police prepares to mark Virtual Pride 2020
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Officers and staff from Merseyside Police will once again be taking part in the Pride in Liverpool march, with this year’s event going virtual on Saturday (25 July 2020).
Chief Constable Andy Cooke has been joined by officers and staff from across the force to record a special video message for Pride MarchONline, which starts at midday on Saturday.
Dozens of organisations from around Merseyside will be taking part in the event, due to last for around an hour, which this year has the theme ‘Young at Heart’. It will promote the right for LGBT+ people to enjoy a happy, healthy and carefree life regardless of age, ability or how they identify.
The rainbow flag will once again be flown at Merseyside Police HQ, and Merseyside Police Chief Constable, Andy Cooke said the Force is determined to make sure the Force marks Pride despite the absence of a physical march due to ongoing restrictions.
He added: “As with many events that were due to take place during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a great shame that the city’s streets will not be filled with the colourful and vibrant Pride march we have enjoyed seeing in Liverpool every July.
“It is a tribute to the dedication of the organisers that they have persevered and found a way for people to show their solidarity with the LGBTQ community with a virtual march.
“We’re honoured to have been invited to be a part of Pride 2020 and to join people across the Liverpool City Region to promote diversity, equality and tolerance in our communities.
“Pride gives us the chance to show our commitment to becoming a police force that truly reflects the communities we serve, and demonstrate we will not tolerate hate crime of any kind. As a Force we believe that all our communities should be treated with equality and that everyone should be able to enjoy themselves without fear of prejudice and discrimination.
"It’s also a great opportunity for us to celebrate just what a great place the region is to live and work, and join in the fun that Pride always brings.
"It can’t be the same this year, but our officers, specials, cadets and staff wanted to show how much Pride means to us and I would urge everyone to log in on Saturday to join in the fun. Have a great Pride everyone!"
Ahead of Saturday's online event, some of the officers and staff from Merseyside Police’s LGBT+ Network spoke about what Pride means to them.
Detective Constable Tracy O’Hara, Chair of the Merseyside Police LGBT+ Network, said: “Pride means being able to be part of an event which truly enabled me to feel I can be me, where like-minded people come together to remember those who fought for our rights and to be part of that history. To be a gay police officer marching in Pride is one of the proudest moments in my life and my career.”
Adam Hodgson added: "Pride is a reminder of where we've been, where we are and where we're going when it comes to LGBT+ rights. It is always amazing to march at Pride- whether it is real or virtual - because it shows our communities that we value difference and that Merseyside Police is a place where people can be themselves at work.
"Our Network exists to support all our staff at work, to provide feedback and guidance to the organisation and to support Merseyside Police in engaging with LGBT+ communities and I'm proud to be part of it."
Constable Kriss Hubbard said: "Pride means being able to be my true self with the community that I am part of. It’s a time when our community comes together to look back on our history, the journeys we have made individually and together as a collective.
"We stand together going forward with a resilience as to what challenges we may face. I am proud to be a police officer and it is one of those emotive moments seeing my colleagues, the public and family and friends support me for who I truly am at Pride in the role that I am in.
"We can’t gather together in person this year, but I look forward to joining the virtual march and seeing more of the many messages of support for this year’s Pride already appearing online.”
Sergeant Christian Owens said: "Pride is an opportunity to celebrate the whole me, my true authentic self and to be visible and representative of those people who don’t yet have a voice, or the confidence to be out fully in their family and community.
"It’s an experience of empowerment and a feeling of confidence, self-respect and solidarity, but also a reminder of the struggles and the journey’s we have travelled and experienced to get to this point in society today."
Constable Sophie Dowdall added: "Pride to me means acceptance, history and representation. To be part of something that not only celebrates being who you truly are but also remembers those who have fought for us and represents those who still have to fight just to be themselves.
"Attending Pride each year reminds me that I am loved and accepted and to be there as a Police Officer reminding others that they too are loved and accepted makes me proud. Pride to me is family.”