HUDDERSFIELD will host a Gay Pride march next year.
Organisers of the Pink Picnic are drawing up plans for the parade from Huddersfield town centre to Greenhead Park in the summer of 2011.
The Pink Picnic began with a handful of people at Binn Wood near Holmfirth in 1986 and in 1998 the event moved to Castle Hill.
Last year’s Pink Picnic at the Huddersfield landmark attracted thousands of people. Organisers plan to move the event to Greenhead Park next year after the £5.4m revamp of the park is completed.
And for the first time, there will be a Gay Pride march to the Pink Picnic.
Lesley Hedges, chairwoman of Kirklees Community LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Network, said: “We’re trying to make the community more visible.
“I hope the march achieves the same kind of integration as the Pink Picnic – it won’t be just for gay people.”
The news comes as a major report published shows Britons are becoming more tolerant of gay people.
The British Social Attitudes Survey found that 36% of people thought homosexual acts are “always or mostly wrong” – down from 62% in 1983.
Lesley, 60, said: “I think it’s good but I’m a bit cautious because there’s still a lot of homophobia.
“Most gay people wouldn’t feel comfortable walking hand-in-hand unless they were somewhere like Canal Street in Manchester. I don’t think I would walk through the middle of Huddersfield holding hands with my girlfriend.”
Lesley, who lives in Scapegoat Hill, added that gay people were still harassed and even attacked.
She said: “My girlfriend and I have had kids shouting at us when we were walking in Marsden. There’s still some violence against gay people – the trouble is getting people to report it.”
Lesley added that homophobia was still a major problem in schools. She said: “I think the situation in schools is pretty poor.Young people are using the word ‘gay’ as a term of abuse.
“Homophobic bullying can lead to isolation, depression and young people not wanting to attend school.”
But Lesley praised Kirklees Council, which was this month named the 43rd most gay-friendly employer in the country. She said: “The council is working quite hard on this. Kirklees is such a big employer, so its attitude makes a big difference.”
And Lesley believes the situation was slowly improving as more gay people came out. She said: “If people feel they can be out and open with family and friends, people will not hold such stereotypical views. It’s a virtuous circle”.