More than 140,000 people take to Brussels for Pride & marathon

Summary

Brussels saw hordes of crowds this weekend from all over the country – and the world – as two major events took over the streets

‘Let us stand up for each other’

It was a busy weekend in Brussels, with 100,000 people attending the Pride parade and related activities on Saturday, and 40,000 running in the 20km on Sunday.

While the Belgian Pride kicked off weeks ago, the final event, the big Pride parade and village took place this weekend in the city centre. More than 80 groups and associations marched or rode floats in the parade celebrating and defending the LGBT+ community. Together with spectators, they totalled 100,000.

The Pride theme this year was intersectionality, with the tagline All for One! “With solidarity and intersectionality as baselines, we want to emphasise that everyone is unique and deserves their place in society without discrimination, no matter the reason,” said Belgian Pride president Cyrille Prestianni. “Let us stand up for each other and for the people who still face discrimination and exclusion every day.”

Pride village’s party atmosphere was peppered with information stands, and the main stage at Kunstberg saw performances and DJs setting the scene until midnight. The event is now gearing up for its 25th anniversary edition next year.

Reclaim the Pride

Not everyone, however, is delighted by the growing Pride parade. “We are protesting against the political appropriation of Pride, against the lack of political support and against the insecurity in which LGBTQIA+ and sex workers still feel,” a spokesperson for Reclaim the Pride told Knack.

The group, which invited anyone who shared these feelings to join them, interrupted the parade when it blocked certain participants from marching. “Belgian Pride has become a political, commercial and touristic circus,” the spokesperson said. “Politicians arrive to take up this space that doesn’t belong to them and have monopolised a party that used to be part of the LGBTQIA+ struggle, the resistance, the revolution.”

This “pinkwashing” says the group, has got to stop. “We would like to see political parties in the parliaments and commissions listen to our voices the whole year through. There are still far too many children mutilated out of fear of non-defined gender, too many sex workers are forgotten by the legislation. We demand that political parties take strong measures for LGBTQIA and sex workers and stay away from Pride next year.”

We would like to see political parties listen to our voices the whole year through

- Reclaim the Pride

On Sunday, meanwhile, 40,000 runners made up of a record 137 nationalities took part in the 40th anniversary edition of the Brussels 20km. Thousands more turned to root them on and visit stands in the event’s epicentre, Jubelpark.

About 60% of those running were part of a team, usually raising money for charity. Forty-nine runners were taking part in the event for the 40th time, having never missed a 20km.

King Filip shot the starting pistol, getting the race underway at 10.00. First across the finish line with a time of 1:00:34 was Belgian Valentin Poncelet. The 27-year-old regularly participates in marathons and often places in the top 10. It’s the first time he has won the Brussels 20km.

Alexandra Tondeur, 32, took first place for the women, with a time of 1:13:04. A professional triathlete, it was the second year in a row that she won the race.

Because the temperature was mild this year, there was only one incident in which an ambulance had to be called. The runner had a heart problem and was taken to hospital. Eight other runners were also taken to hospital, below the average 13 of the last few years.

In total, the Red Cross treated 389 people for exhaustion, minor injuries, cramps and muscle pain. Again, this is well below the 600 average of previous years.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/BELGA