Helsinki Pride week 2014 has begun, and will run until Sunday, June 29. The festival week kicks off today at Three Smiths Square in downtown Helsinki, with festivities beginning at 4.30pm.
This year Helsinki Pride, organised by HeSeta ry*, which provides social services and support for sexual minorities in Uusimaa, is tackling working life issues from the perspective of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Events built around the theme include seminars, documentaries and panel discussions.
The festival has been organised in Helsinki for nine consecutive years, prior to which the host city was switched around on odd or even years. Helsinki Pride has its roots in umbrella organisation Seta’s annual meetings and so-called Freedom Day celebrations, reaching back to 1975. Now, more than 30,000 visitors attend Helsinki Pride annually.
Youths and icons
The week-long festival also caters specifically to youths and young adults, with a dozen events focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals aged 13—25. The festival welcomes people from all walks of life to take part in the festivities, culminating in the annual pride march through the centre of Helsinki.
The march, which starts from the Senate Square at 1pm on Saturday, June 28, gathered more than 8,000 participants in 2013. Historically the march has not been uneventful: in 2010 protestors interrupted the march and attacked attendees using smoke grenades and pepper spray.
During the week, the Yle Teema channel will be featuring programming with international LGBT icons such as Eurovision contest winner Conchita and filmmaker Almodóvar. Stephen Fry’s documentary on homophobia can be viewed on Yle Teema at 9pm on Monday, June 23 and Tuesday, June 24.
The full program of the Helsinki Pride festival week (also in English) can be viewed in pdf format here.
*This article was updated to amend an error - the Helsinki Pride events are organised by HeSETA ry, not SETA as originally stated. HeSeta is an independent member of national human rights NGO SETA.