Royal Mail will issue a set of eight stamps on July 1 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Pride rally in the UK, which took place on the same day in 1972.

The issue represents the 50-year story of the Pride movement, which celebrates diversity and individualism within the LGBTQ+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others), and raises awareness of discrimination and inequality.

The colourful designs all feature people marching joyously, while showing variations and developments in dress, slogans, banners and flags.

The Pride events that take place in towns and cities across the UK today trace their origins back to the first Gay Pride Rally, which was organised by the Gay Liberation Front.

The march from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park in London was in turn inspired by events in the USA commemorating the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, in which the LGBTQ+ community in New York had fought back against police discrimination in 1969.

After being expressly illegal for more than 400 years, homosexuality had been partially decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, yet arrests of gay and bisexual men for gross indecency had actually increased. The spirit of the Gay Pride Rally was one of defiant visibility, with a ‘kiss-in’ organised as a mass display of same-sex affection.

During the first decade of Pride events, safety was a priority issue, as violent assaults on members of the LGBTQ+ community were common.

During the 1980s, discrimination worsened in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, and there was a backlash against Section 28 of the Local Government Act, 1988, which banned local authorities and schools from ‘promoting’ homosexuality.

Throughout the 1990s, Pride events spread across the UK and attendances grew, with annual marches in Scotland (alternating between Edinburgh and Glasgow) and Wales (in Cardiff).

In the 21st century, social attitudes have changed and legal rights have improved. Same-sex couples won the right to adopt from 2002, Section 28 was repealed in 2003, same-sex civil partnerships were legalised in 2004, and same-sex marriage was permitted from 2014.

Pride in London, held this year on July 2, remains the main annual celebration in the UK, capable of attracting more than a million people. A signal of its mainstream acceptance is that it has begun to benefit from lucrative corporate sponsorship.

The stamps are vibrantly illustrated by Sofie Birkin, with art direction by NB Studio. Printed in litho by Cartor, they come in se-tenant pairs with composite designs.

Royal Mail consulted with its internal LGBT & Friends Network when planning the issue.

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Pride marchers and couple kissing.

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Pride marchers with Gay Pride flags and ‘Love’ banner.

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Pride marchers with Transgender Pride banner and Non-Binary Pride flag.

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Pride marchers with Progress Pride flag.

Pride marchers with ‘Gay pride’ and ‘Lesbians unite’ banners.

Pride marchers with ‘Glad to be gay’ banner.

Pride marchers and couple kissing with ‘Gay liberation’ banner.

Pride marchers with ‘Love always wins’ and rainbow banners.

Written by journalist and author Amelia Abraham, the presentation pack tells the 50-year story of Pride in the UK.

Stamp cards and a choice of first day covers are available as usual.

Set of 8 stamps £11.20
Presentation pack £12.10
Stamp cards £3.60
First day cover £14.10
Coin covers from £17.50

Not simply a case of jumping on a bandwagon, this issue marks a major anniversary for a key civil rights movement

The images are rather cartoon-like, but their colour and vibrancy match those of Pride events

This set is unlike anything Royal Mail has previously produced, and should get noticed