Medway Pride CIC, MGSD Centre, 331 High Street Rochester Medway ME1 1DA 01634 408668
Police with Pride banner image

Police with Pride

Pride events began as a demonstration to demand equality rights for LGBTQ+ communities. Over the past 50yrs they have been part of a movement that successfully challenged laws that discriminated against them. Today LGBTQ+ Pride events have become community coheision events, encouraging all communities to come together and celebrate equality with the LGBTQ+ community as Allies . A lot has been achieved but there are still sections of the community, (especially the Trans and Non-binary gender community) , who have many challenges to overcome.

A great deal as changed since the first London Pride 1972, but change in society has been mixed and slow. Section 28 exacerbated the equality rights of LGBTQ+ people and caused delay in reducing stigma in society. In part this stigma and rules against promoting equality for LGBTQ+ communities gave rise to a wariness of engaging with government bodies and local authorities including the Police.

Today things have changed for the better in the UK, the repeal of section 28 in 2003, plus new anti-discrimination laws (2010 Equality Act), provided protection of equality rights for disadvantaged groups. The Public Sector Equality Duty placed a duty on public bodies to harmonise the previous race, disability and gender equality duties and to extend protection to the new protected characteristics listed in the Act.


As a result of these changes Kent Police have been determined to engage with all of Kent & Medway’s diverse communities, encouraging them to join and work with a progressive police force.

Working with community representatives, for example ‘Kent Independent Police Advisory Group’, they have been able to hear the voice of diverse groups and make changes to help break down barriers, improve policing practices and policies for the whole community.

Part of this engagement includes supporting communities thought events like LGBTQ+ Pride, and recognising staff networks like the Kent Police LGBT+ Network

Kent Police LGBT Network

The Kent Police LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender +) Network provides support for all levels of Kent Police so that all staff work in a fair and secure environment where they can be who they are. They also work with communities in Kent ensuring that LGBT+ people have appropriate access to the services offered by Kent Police and aim to dismantle barriers to LGBT+ people accessing police services.

Kent Police LGBT+ Network provide inputs to the volunteer police cadets around LGBT+ role models and how to support LGBT+ young people.

Superintendent Amanda Tillotson Advised ‘As the Chair of the Kent police LGBT+ support group I am immensely proud of not only the support we give to our staff but also the strong links we have formed with our communities. We are avid supporters of the Pride events and I’m grateful for the opportunity this gives us to engage with the public and other partner agencies. We very much look forward to the 2021 events but during these unprecedented times it is important for us all to stay safe. Meanwhile why not follow us on KentPoliceLGBT+ @GpaKent‘ 

LGBTQ+ Community Support

Examples of Kent Police actions to support LGBTQ+ Community

Pride and Transgender Flags – Kent Police raised the Pride flag at Kent Police Headquarters, and the Transgender flag at Kent Police College on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and February 1st to mark the first day of LGBT History month. This was also publicised on social network to show solidarity for the LGBT community.

Pride Cars – Three Kent Police cars with LGBT Pride police markings and the No Hate logo continue to be used on general patrol in the three divisions, sending out the message of valuing difference. The Pride cars are additional used at community diversity event. Pride Events Kent Police have attended Pride events in Kent at Canterbury, Folkestone, Tunbridge Wells and Margate utilising the Pride cars and having LGBT+ staff in attendance.

Pride Police Car

LGBT History Month

During LGBT History Month, a display was place in the Kent Police College foyer about LGBT historic figures. As well as internally promoting LGBT History Month, Kent Police attended Mid Kent College campus’ at Maidstone and Medway to provide a LGBT+ stand.

Metro Youth Event The LGBT+ Network along with the Medway CLO attended and had a stand at a Metro youth event for LGBTQ young people. Members of Kent Police promoted Kent Police as a career choice to the young people, as well as providing hate crime information.

LGBT+ Awareness Training

Specific LGBT+ terminology training is being undertaken with operational officers and PCSOs to keep them up to date with LGBT terminology and to equip staff to be more recognisable of gender identity. All new members of staff within the Force Control Room receive the training.

LGBT+ Hate Crime

Business cards have been produced by Kent Police, for distribution at community events with information on LGBT+ hate crime reporting.

Hate Crime app

Hate crime unfortunately affects many communities including the LGBTQI+ community. Kent Police have been proactive in their work to increase the reporting of hate crime, through engagement at pride events, 3rd party reporting hubs and working with independant organisations to increase reporting, raise awareness of and obtain feedback on hate crimes via the tool. This app has links to enable report of hate crime to Kent Police and True Vision web sites, plus a survey on reporting experiances.

Beyond the badge

It is important for Kent Police to be representative of all the communities they police. They have a program of positive action to help individuals progress from application, through progression in the force, to achieve their desired goals. They are looking for new recruits now! so this is the perfect opportunity for people from LGBTQ+ and other diverse communities to join Kent Police and be part of that community representation.

Your Police Service and communities need you, so please get in touch with us if you are at all thinking about a career in policing as we would love to hear from you.

PS Clare Boichat and DS Sunita Dale
You can get in touch with us at:

What would you like to do now?

Police with pirde

I would like to look at the Kent Police Positive Action webpages to see what support is available.

Would you like to know find out or register your interest in the Investigate First Scheme?

I would like to look online to find out more about being a Police Officer and how to apply.

I would like to book one of the online sessions to know more about becoming a Police Officer and how to apply.

I would like to look at what other roles Kent Police have to offer and how to apply.

I would like to look at how I can become a Special Constable or volunteer.

I would like to talk to the Positive Action Team about how I can help support Kent Police’s recruitment ambition to recruit a police service that better reflects our local communities.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The Day represents a major global annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, corporations, opinion leaders, local authorities, etc. to the alarming situation faced by people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

It would take until May 2019 before the WHO would take steps to declassifiy being Transgender as a mental disorder under the definition of Gender Incongruence. WHO officials voted to move the term they use for transgender people—gender incongruence—from the organization’s mental disorders chapter to its sexual health chapter in the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. That revision takes effect worldwide on Jan. 1, 2022, in preperation for this change some countries are implementing the change earlier.

Hilary Cooke CEO of MGSD Centre advised ‘Today 17th May is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). Medway Pride represents all LGBTQI+ communities and their fight to stop Discrimination and Hate Crime. To support the cause of equality for our Trans Brothers and Sisters, Genderqueer & Non-binary people we have shared a new resource released today’.
#StoptheHate #IDAHOBIT

Medway Pride supports the reduction of Discrimination and Hate Crime against all communities. Together we can reduce discrimination and bring understanding of each other, reduce fear and hate. We encourage the reporting of hate crime, hate incidents and anti social behaviour

Hate Crime Poster

Use the to report crime to Kent Police or True Vision and please complete the Hate Crime Survey via the App which gathers feedback on the experiance of reporting hate crime or ASB, for both current and historic ev


#VMPride2020 was part of the contingency plan which was put in place as Medway Pride 2020 parade and festival had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Virtual Pride event will take place during August 2020. It will be a mix of atrifacts that can be accessed via a download file, on demand video and live stream video content listed in an online program of events.

We will be publising details of the festival program as plans progress. It will be include activities, and performances to keep you entertained and having fun during the event. So get ready to enjoy our first Virtual Medway Pride in August. There will be something for everyone to enjoy, You can Be You and meet friends online. Don’t forget to donate to help raise money for the Medway Pride Fund and the creatives, performers who provide the entertainment for you.

Medway Pride Community Organisation uses funds raised to support it aims and objectives

LGBT History Month 2020

LGBT History month has been celebrated in the Medway towns with various events taking place each February.

Outing Prejudice poster image

This years event was hosted by Nucleus Arts Centre in Chatham and was supported by MGSD Centre, Metro Charity & Creatabot partners of Medway Pride.

The artifacts exhibited were provided by artists from or allies of the LGBTQI+ Community of Medway & Kent.

Below are some images from this years exhibition which included a colaborative interactive work by Mark Delacour – Metro Centre and Hilary Cooke MGSD Centre on Pronoun use.

This event took place in February 2020 and became the launch event for Medway Pride. We have been invited back by Nucleus Arts for next years LGBTQI+ History Month Event.

Some of the exhibits from LGBT History Month

History of LGBT History Month

LGBT History Month was initiated in the UK by Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick as a Schools OUT UK project, which first took place in February 2005. The Month is an annual event in the United Kingdom taking place every February.

The event came in the wake of the abolition of Section 28 in 2003, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003as well as the government’s proposals to bring in a single equality act and a public duty, although this, in fact, did not come to fruition until 2010.

The Month is intended as a means to raise awareness of, and combat prejudice against the LGBT community while celebrating its achievement and diversity and making it more visible.

The first celebration in 2005 saw the organisation of over 150 events around the UK. The second logo for the organisation behind the month was designed by LGBT typographer Tony Malone in 2006, and was reworked by him in 2007 when it then became the corporate logo for the national committee.

From that point in time, each yearly iteration of the Month started to receive its own mark designed by students of the University of the Arts and later by design students at the University of Bedfordshire.

Hope to see you at Medway Prides next LGBT History Month Exhibition.

COVID -19 & Medway Pride 2020

Plans were well advanced for #MPFestival2020 when COVID-19 presented itself and the social distancing restrictions were put in place.

Plans for a Parade from Chatham to Rochester Castle with 500 participants, including floats and acts were being completed, and a Pride festival in the grounds of Rochester Castle with stage events were in progress with negotiation for traffic management and security taking place. We were at a stage where contracts would need to be agreed and funds commited to secure the services required for a safe event to take place. Acts would need to be booked and contracted to perform.

This presented the Medway Pride Streering Group with difficult choices on waiting for futher government advice on future plans or to postpone the event.

It was a matter of safety that made the decision to cancel the easy choice to make.

Published: 20:12, 28 April 2020

Plans for Medway’s first Gay Pride have been pushed back to next year.

The celebration was due to take place in the Towns on Saturday, August 22.

Pride has been postponed in the Towns Picture: iStock
Pride has been postponed in the Towns Picture: iStock

However, due to the ongoing lockdown measures, the festival’s organisers have decided to hold the event next year instead.

A parade through Chatham and Rochester followed by a grand finale in the gardens of Rochester Castle had been planned.

A steering group of people from the Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre, the Medway Pride Community Organisation, METRO Charity and creative arts organisation Creatabot, are looking at the idea of staging a virtual Pride.

Chief executive of the Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre, Hilary Cooke, said: “Although it is disappointing that we have to cancel this year’s event, we look forward to continuing the positive conversations we have had with Medway Council, our partners, and sponsors of the event and believe that it is vital that Medway is on the map as an LGBTQ+ friendly area for all those who live here and might consider living here.”

Any funding which has already been raised for the event is due to go into next year’s festival on Saturday, August 21, 2021.

A Pride Parade in Canterbury last year. Picture: Chris Davey
A Pride Parade in Canterbury last year. Picture: Chris Davey

Anyone who is interested in taking part in a virtual version of the festival can visit #VMPride2020 for information or contact us

Medway Pride 2020 Steering Group

MP Tee Shirt Logo

During the summer of 2019 Hilary Cooke CEO of Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre began disussions with the Medway Pride 2019 team to discuss future plans. The result of these discussions led to the formation of a steering group to move plans forwards for a Medway Pride 2020 event.

Hilary invited Metro Charity and Intrested Parties to join the steering group. The group members are formed from the existing Medway Pride Team and representatives from LGBTQI+ organisations working in Medway & Kent.

Medway Pride Steering Steering Group Members

Chair – Hilary Cooke – CEO MGSD Centre

Member – Natasha Steer – Founder of Creatabot & lead on Medway Pride 2019 Team

Member – Martha Abernathy Member of Medway Pride 2019 Team.

Member- Mark Delacour – Director of External Affairs Metro Charity

Member – Helanna Bowler-Irvine CEO Gravesham Pride

The steering group began planning for a larger Medway Pride 2020 event #MPride2020 in August 2019.

Published: 06:00, 18 February 2020

Published: 06:00, 18 February 2020 | Updated: 20:23, 19 February 2020

Medway is to host its first LGBTQI+ Pride festival this summer with a fancy dress parade and packed programme of entertainment for the family.

Plans for the extravaganza are to be unveiled at an exhibition, entitled Outing Prejudice, at Nucleus Arts in Chatham High Street from next Friday (February 28) to Wednesday, March 4.

Organisers Hilary Cooke and Helanna Bowler-Irvine spoke to Keilan Webster at KMTV

The event on Saturday, August 22, aims to attract not only the LGBTQ+ community, but anyone who wants to celebrate diversity across the Towns.

Local talent will be showcased at Rochester Castle where there will be a grand finale. There will also be a procession from Chatham to Rochester.

The annual worldwide fiesta celebrates diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) community, but everyone is invited to join the party.

The steering group behind Medway Pride 2020 includes representation from Medway Gender and Sexual Diversity Centre, METRO charity which supports equality and identity issues and Creatabot, which uses creativity to promote health and wellbeing.

Hilary Cooke, chief executive of the MGSD Centre, said: “We look forward to continuing the positive conversations we have had with Medway Council in regards to the organisation of the event and believe that it is vital that Medway is on the map as an LGBTQ+ friendly area for all those who live here and might consider living here.”

Some of those who took part in Margate Pride last year	Picture: Paul Amos (15047356)
Some of those who took part in Margate Pride last year Picture: Paul Amos (15047356)

Last year saw the largest number of Pride events throughout the world and, as a result, the idea of holding one in Medway grew.

In previous years, proposals have been scuppered because of a lack of funding, but organisers are determined that 2020 is the year that it will go ahead and are appealing for community groups and organisations to participate as well as individual sponsorship. Volunteers are also needed to help out on the day which runs from 1pm to 8pm.

Information on parade registration and how to get involved is yet to be released. To find out more visit contact us

Similar festivals are already held in Margate, Canterbury, Folkestone, Dover, Tunbridge Wells, Faversham and Sheppey with Gravesend staging its inaugural event this summer.

A sell-out crowd partied the night away at the Melanie C concert at Dreamland as part of Margate Pride. Picture: Dreamland Margate (15112189)
A sell-out crowd partied the night away at the Melanie C concert at Dreamland as part of Margate Pride. Picture: Dreamland Margate (15112189)

Medway Pride 2019

From Kent Messenger Published: 00:01, 04 November 2018

Medway’s first Gay Pride festival will go ahead next year, despite lack of council funding.

Organisers of the LGBT+pride event, which will include a fancy dress parade, live performances and stalls, have started a crowdfunding campaign this month.

It will be held in Rochester, based around the Castle Gardens and town centre on a Saturday in the summer.

It is being co-staged by Natasha Steer, a Chatham-based creative community arts co-ordinator, and Martha Abernathy, an American ex-pat living and working in Medway who is a trade unionist and LGBT rights campaigner.

Natasha said: “We want the first Medway Pride event to be a collaboration between services. We want it to be non-partisan but also supported by local parties and the local authority.”

Martha added: “Crowdfunding will give the LGBTQ+community and their allies in Medway the unique ability to support both the local community and the event.”

As a grassroots organisation, Medway Pride will look at various sources of funding as well as partners to be able to make the event happen.

Similar festivals have now sprung up in towns up and down the country to celebrate the culture of lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other groups.

Medway Council has said it would welcome such an event, but does not have the money to organise one itself.

Deputy leader Cllr Howard Doe (Con), speaking to members last month highlighted a series of events organised by external organisations which have benefited from support from the council.

The Gay Pride march in Canterbury this summer
The Gay Pride march in Canterbury this summer

He added: “It should be borne in mind that there is currently no provision within any existing budgets for any costs that would be incurred in hosting such an event.

“We agree that planning for a pride event should be transparent and inclusive, and would look to the organiser to be so.”

Natasha and Martha began planning for Medway Pride 2019 and started to look for funding routes. All pride events are self funded with a mixture of grant, sponsorship funding and donations raised by the community. It was never a question of asking Medway Council to fund the event, but it was paramount to its success that the council was on board with the event going ahaead.

Medway Council are very supportive of the event, they are working to help the Medway Pride team meet its requirements, supporting road closures, and facilitating meetings with Medway Events and Heritage Teams

As time went by it became apparent that more help was needed to promote and fundraise the event

Medway Pride

It was 2018 and with the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall Riots, which began the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, that led to Pride Events fast approaching, two people, Natash & Martha, living in Medway began having a conversation wondering why Medway Pride was not a yearly event.

It wasn’t that the LGBTQ+ community was to small, Medway has always had a vibrant community scene with pubs and clubs serving the community, but Pride had not been a fixture in Medway. There had been Pride events with Local venues holding in house pride parties, and groups would travel to London or Brighton to attend their annual festivals.

In 2013 & 2014 Rochester held Picnic in the Park events promoted by Kent & Medway LGBT Community Action Group with help from Metro Charity

These were small events and after these two events they concentrated and promoting Margate Pride to get that event on the annual calendar.

Natasha and Martha decided to hold a public meeting to see if the community wanted to hold a Pride event in Medway. The result was a deffinate YES with over 100 people willing to volunteer, So the plans began to promote a Medway Pride Festival.

 Last Updated: April 30, 2020 by Medway Pride Admin 1 Comment

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Medway Pride Community Organisation

A blog about Medway Pride