Manchester's world-famous gay Pride Festival is being forced out of its iconic Canal Street location in a bid to make way for more private development, the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
Prominent gay rights campaigner and Manchester's Opposition Leader John Leech said the plans were at risk of "ripping the heart out of Manchester."
Just weeks before the international festival is due to begin, recommendations for four sites have been approved by Manchester Council, meaning the annual festival will be ousted from its world-famous Canal Street venues next year.
This is despite Labour’s City Centre spokesperson, Councillor Pat Karney, saying in January this year: “Pride is not moving anywhere. Full stop.” and claiming the rumours were "Fake facts."
The Liberal Democrat opposition have slammed the Labour group for being in "complete confusion" over the plans, which are vague and lack any clarity on plans to rehome the festival.
John Leech, who led the successful campaign to pardon Alan Turing, said: "Manchester provided a home and a sanctuary for the oppressed to express their love, and begin their long fight for equal rights. Removing this international celebration from its home will rip the heart out of Manchester.
"There has also been no consideration for local businesses and the impact that removing the main Pride stage from Canal Street will have on independent traders.
"Labour have not properly consulted local people at any stage of this process, they have disregarded the views of those that have raised concerns and are themselves in complete confusion, unable to guarantee any firm home for the festival next year just weeks before this year's is due to begin.
"They must halt these greedy plans until they come up with something concrete they can propose to the community."
John Leech is no stranger to the LGBTQ+ community; he designed the Bill and led the successful campaign to pardon ‘war hero’ Alan Turing, whose conviction for homosexuality he slammed as "utterly disgusting and ultimately just embarrassing". He secured the pardon for the 75,000+ other men convicted of similar offences, led calls to outlaw homophobic chanting at football matches, helped design the Equal Marriage bill and most recently launched a campaign to tackle the rise of homophobic and transphobic bullying in Manchester high schools.
The council, however, has insisted developments will not lead to displacement of the LGBTQ+ community from the iconic Gay Village despite major regeneration in the area, including plans to build on the car park that currently hosts the main stage.
Community campaigner Joe Lynch said: "It's extremely disappointing that organisers feel unable to keep the main Pride stage in the Gay Village because the council is insisting on voting through development proposals despite being warned of this inevitable consequence."