Fleur Thomas, British Ambassador to Luxembourg; Credit: Jazmin Campbell/Chronicle.lu

On Wednesday 10 July 2024, about 80 people gathered at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Luxembourg-Ville for "EqualiTea" afternoon tea to celebrate 25 years of Luxembourg Pride.

The British Ambassador to Luxembourg, Fleur Thomas, hosted this special event in partnership with Rosa Lëtzebuerg and with the support of Aztec Group.

In her welcome address, the ambassador emphasised that everyone who is lobbying for LGBT+ rights is "not asking for special rights, but for the same dignity, respect and rights as all other citizens". She highlighted the UK's journey towards LGBT+ equality which has been "marked by some significant milestones and remarkable resilience", for example the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967 (1980 in Scotland, 1982 in Northern Ireland). In 1972, the UK's first Pride march in London attracted about 2,000 participants; this year's London Pride brought together 30,000+ people.

The ambassador also recalled how James Clark, then British Ambassador to Luxembourg, and his partner became the first officially recognised gay couple to have an audience with Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in Britain but also in Luxembourg in 2014 - "a direct result of the dedication and courage" of many people throughout history.

Acknowledging that "progress is not always linear", the British Ambassador mentioned concerted efforts to "roll back the rights of LGBT+ people around the world", although the LGBT+ community remains resilient and solidarity is "a very, very powerful tool". She highlighted some of the efforts being made by the UK and its diplomatic missions (together with international allies and partners) to advance equality, and noted that the new Labour government has pledged to ban conversion therapy, which is "a good start".

As the event's name would suggest, guests were treated to traditional British afternoon tea - a choice of green and black tea accompanied by mini scones (with clotted cream and jam), sandwiches and traybakes, as well as a rainbow cake. The British Ambassador noted how tea holds a "very cherished place in British culture", adding: "It is not just a drink, it is a ritual that brings us together". She also thanked the harpist who was playing beautifully throughout the afternoon.

This event was one of many taking place during Luxembourg Pride, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. What began as "Gay Mat", a smaller event with information stands, has grown into a week-long celebration (Pride Week) at the start of July each year. Luxembourg Pride Week 2024 is taking place from 8 to 14 July, culminating in Luxembourg Pride Street Fest this coming weekend in Esch-sur-Alzette.