Hundreds of people attended Gozo's first ever Pride march on Saturday, in what organisers called a "symbol of visibility, equality and representation". 

The parade set off from Qawsalla Hub, the LGBTI+ Gozo community service centre, in Victoria with attendees in bright clothes blowing whistles and flying flags.

Gozo is regarded as more conservative in its views on LGBTI rights than its larger neighbour, with a recent survey finding that the majority of LGBTI people living in Gozo still feel it is more challenging to be open about their sexuality.

Malta first held a Pride march back in 2004, but it has taken 18 years for Gozo to get its equivalent.

Eman Borg from LGBTI+ Gozo said LGBTI rights could not be seen as a box-ticking exercise. 

"Until the day that even one person is being persecuted for being who they are the need to March will still exist," he said.

"The first Gozo Pride March is yet another milestone, a symbol for more visibility, equality and representation and a recognision of the work that LGBTI+ Gozo started seven years ago."

Several politicians attended the event, including Gozo minister Clinton Camilleri and MEP Cyrus Engerer, as well as MPs Claudette Buttigieg and Alex Borg from FOIPN. 

In a statement, organisers described the march as an "emotional moment for queer individuals" and praised the growth of acceptance and inclusivity in Malta and Gozo in recent years.

"This Pride March is a continual promise to the community, that LGBTI+ Gozo and the governing bodies of this island uphold the inalienable rights of its citizens and to protect and safeguard the livelihoods of its minorities. We will continue to fight for equal representation for the queer Gozitan community and reiterate our commitment to ensure love overcomes hate on the island of Gozo."

Last year a new LGBTI + centre was opened in Gozo, making it easier for people to access counselling, queer-friendly training, and other services including a monthly youth hub and book clubs.

The project was directly funded by the Gozo ministry and is run by LGBTI+ Gozo.

The Gozo Pride March forms part of Malta Pride Week 2022, which comprises a programme with over 20 events, running until September 11 with the theme "Live Your Truth". 

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