Leeds Pride will be 'bigger and better' when it returns pledges event co-founder Liaqat Ali

The man who co-founded Leeds Pride has pledged it will be back 'bigger and better' than ever when mass gatherings of people are  deemed to be safe.

Leeds Pride 2019

Liaqat Ali helped found the first ever Leeds Pride event in August 2006 when around 300 people gathered on Millennium Square before marching to Lower Briggate.

The event gathered momentum year on year and in 2019 around 60,000 people turned out to what is now believed to be the biggest completely free pride event in the UK.

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The Coronavius pandemic left organisers with no option but to cancel this year's Leeds Pride, which was planned for August 2.

Liaqat Ali

Next year's Leeds Pride is due to take place on Sunday August 1 2021, coronavirus restrictions permitting.

Mr Ali said: " As soon as things like festivals and mass gatherings can happen, we will be back bigger and better.

"We have decided against a virtual pride event this year.

"Leeds Pride is about everyone coming together and everyone being one and showing unity and support for each other."

The first Leeds Pride in 2006 was a low key event with just 300 people, but it quickly gained popularity.

Mr Ali said: "In the second of third year we got parts of Lower Briggate closed off and we had some market stalls and fairground rides and a small stage.

"It just got bigger and bigger. In around 2009/10 we were getting 10,000 people. Last year we had around 60,000 people.

"My personal highlight from last year was coming down the Headrow and seeing it five or six people deep watching the parade coming through the city centre.

"Last year we had 140 parade entries. We bring in roughly about £4m to the city's economy.

"Just seeing the companies and organisations and the families that are there, it shows that attitudes towards the LGBT community are changing.

"There's still a long way to go with issues with trans rights and the Gender Recognition Act, but it sees the Leeds community come together with families from all walks of life watching the parade coming through, it's just a wonderful day."