Pride event ‘opportunity to get message across’ as Britney fever takes hold

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Britney fever has given the UK’s biggest Pride celebration a world stage to shout about its campaigns, organisers said.

Pop star Britney Spears will perform at Brighton Pride on Saturday as one of the biggest acts to headline the event.

A campaign video will be played to crowds ahead of the singer arriving on stage to kickstart her Europe tour with her Piece Of Me show.

Speaking to the Press Association, the event’s managing director, Paul Kemp, said: “There are still 72 countries where it is illegal to be LGBTQ, people are still persecuted for who they are.

“So we have an opportunity when the world is looking at Brighton Pride to get that message across on an international stage.

“Britney is a massive icon, everyone knows a Britney song. We are incredibly excited to have her here.

“She has a huge show coming with her, something like 20 backing dancers, so it’s definitely the biggest show Brighton Pride will have seen. It’s going to be an amazing show.”

In April the 36-year-old was awarded the Glaad vanguard award for promoting equality and being an “ally” for gay rights.

Britney fever hit the city as soon as news emerged earlier this year that she was due to perform. A video which celebrated her arrival by paying homage to her dance routines outside the city’s landmarks has gone viral online.

Brighton-based choreographer Andrea Walker, who runs the 201 Dance Company in London and put together the routine, said she is a “massive” Britney fan and described her as an “inspirational figure”.

On Tuesday organisers dismissed online rumours she had cancelled her performance by responding with a tweet which said: “Utter nonsense, she’s on her way.”

For the first year, music acts will also perform on the Sunday including Nile Rodgers with Chic, Jess Glynne and Gabrielle.

Hundreds of volunteers and staff will be working over the weekend at the event which brings an estimated £18 million into the city and around 2% of its total annual visitors in one day.

Organisers are hopeful of raising at least £500,000 for charity too.

Around 900 extra police, including armed officers, are expected to be on patrol at this year’s event, according to organisers. Road blocks have been put in place around the city, police said.

In the wake of anti-transgender protesters attending London Pride last month, organisers and police have said they will respect the right to peaceful protest but would take action if any behaviour causes distress, disrupts the event or puts people’s safety at risk.

Mr Kemp said: “We don’t want the message of Pride to be diminished so we will take action if needed.

“Armed police will be on patrol and barriers will be in place. I think people are accustomed to these measures. It’s about keeping people safe.

“We also urge people to take their own measures too – it’s going to be very hot so drink plenty of water and wear lots of sunscreen.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said officers would be working to minimise disruption, prevent crime and keep people safe during the event, adding: “Sussex Police fully supports people’s rights to demonstrate peacefully.

“We must balance people’s right to protest peacefully, against the disruption and alarm it may cause to the event in the city.”

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