Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne has announced that he plans to march in the Helsinki Pride parade on Saturday.
A celebration of sexual minorities, Pride Week began on Monday, featuring nearly 100 events across Helsinki. Last year the march drew nearly 100,000 people to the city centre.
"I am sure that this year even larger numbers of Finns will be marching in the Helsinki Pride parade on Saturday. I will also be there, as the first Finnish Prime Minister to participate. The world is not ready, but we are heading towards an increasingly equal society - together," Rinne wrote in an open letter published Thursday.
"I am old enough to have lived at a time when the Criminal Code still discriminated against sexual and gender minorities. Now in 2019, it seems unbelievable that in 1971 homosexuality was still a crime, in 1981 it was considered a disease, and it was as late as in 1995 when discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was prohibited," the PM's statement continued.
"No honour" in treatment of sexual, gender minorities
"It is hard to even imagine how this sounds to young Finns in their early twenties. However, it was important to spell this out because it shows that the world is indeed changing for the better," Rinne stated, adding that change can only happen with the help of people.
"Sexual and gender minorities have a proud history, but there is no honour in how they have been treated. Not in Finland, not in the world. Sexual and gender minorities have come a long way, and the road has been much too rocky. Along the path towards equality there has been a lot of inappropriate and unjust treatment, discrimination and fear," Rinne stated.
The Helsinki Pride parade begins at Senate Square on Saturday 29 June around noon, from where the colourful procession will march through the city centre towards Kaivopuisto park.