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Our Position – Brussels Pride
published on 31 May 2023
RainbowHouse’s position on the 2023 edition of Brussels Pride
On the eve of the event, the adrenaline is pumping and questions are being asked about issues that are not new but remain crucial. To help us understand this state of affairs, we’d like to shed some light on the background to the preparations for this year’s event, and on the changes that have been made, are underway or have not yet been implemented, which we’ll be assessing in the days following the parade.
For Brussels Pride 2024, RainbowHouse is calling for LGBTQIA+ associations and activists to be at the heart of the organization and management of the event. The role of political parties and private partners must be rethought to ensure that Brussels Pride remains first and foremost an event of protest and demand, at a time when Belgium still does not guarantee the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people.
The 2023 edition of Brussels Pride has been prepared with an unprecedented governance structure. Visit.Brussels, an Organisme d’Intérêt Public, has taken charge of organizing the event, while the representative domes of Belgian LGBTQIA+ players – RainbowHouse, çavaria, Prisme and the Brussels Rainbow Federation (a federation of lgbtqia+ businesses) – have been invited to join Visit.Brussels on the Pride steering committee.
Pride Week, funded separately from Pride Day, was organized by Rainbow Corporate and Pride, in collaboration with the new Grands Carmes community center and RainbowHouse.This approach, with Visit.Brussels taking the lead and the Coupoles playing a co-piloting role, was not what we wanted. We had put forward alternatives for the organization of Brussels Pride to be the responsibility of the Brussels LGBTQIA+ community. However, our proposals were not accepted. We then opted for unity, in a context where the other players pleaded for Brussels Pride to remain a federal and European event, taking into account the sensitivities and realities of the different regions.
These postponements on the governance of the event have considerably reduced the time available to implement Brussels Pride 2023 within a framework that meets our expectations. We also regret to note that the decisions taken by the steering committee could not always be implemented.
We would like to remind you that, although it has become a festive event celebrating diversity, Brussels Pride is first and foremost a militant event. The parade/walk commemorates the revolt movements of LGBTQIA+ people, led in particular by racialized LGBTQIA+ people, which had a worldwide repercussion following the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969.
In 2023, the “Protect the Protest” theme, originally promoted by Amnesty International, will serve as a reminder of this founding pillar of all Prides worldwide. We feel it is doubly essential that LGBTQIA+ associations and activists should be at the heart of Brussels Pride’s organization and strategic choices. This was not the case this year.
For several years now, the place given to political parties and private partners in Brussels Pride has been questionable. Current governance and time constraints have prevented a satisfactory response to these legitimate questions. The signing of a charter on respect for fundamental rights, or the holding of an Inqlusion scan, no longer provide sufficient guarantees that all the entities that take part in Pride are not using the event for “pink washing” purposes. For several years now, we have been calling for a genuine “Pride quality code” to address these concerns.
While partisan LGBTQIA+ associations emanating from a political party have their rightful place in the event, the participation of political parties in the parade needs to be carefully considered. This year, we had asked that the participation of political parties be conditional on the presence of a stand in the village and the holding of a mediatized debate in the days preceding the parade. These demands could not be implemented by the organization.
These questions and legitimate concerns divide our associative base. Several collectives no longer see eye to eye. This is reflected in alternative Prides and protests in the parade, which allow us to express a diversity of viewpoints in a healthy, peaceful and democratic way. As such, we once again condemn the police violence that took place against LGBTQIA+ activists in 2019, and we call for Brussels Pride 2023 to take place with respect for the opinions expressed, benevolence and non-violence.
In recent months, we have adopted a pragmatic stance in the role we have been assigned for this edition. We’ve worked hard to ensure that Brussels Pride and Pride Week are held in the best possible conditions, given the constraints we’ve encountered. As of next week, we will begin the evaluation of this 2023 edition and return to our base.
We hope that this evaluation will enable us to make changes to the governance structure of Brussels Pride and the shape of the event, in order to give the various minorities their rightful place, to better articulate the festive and militant dimensions, and to define the appropriate place for political parties and private partners within the event.
The RainbowHouse Board