THE annual Brighton Pride parade and party is now a permanent fixture in the city’s event calendar. Along with similar events from Sydney to Sao Paulo, it has championed the rights of the LGBTI communities.

It is one of the biggest events in the year attracting around 160,000 people and generating, says Brighton and Hove City Council, an estimated £13.5million for the local economy.

It was not always thus. It is to the credit of director Paul Kemp and his team that it is now on a secure financial footing and contributing vital funds to good causes.

But it is worth remembering that the right of LGBTI people to go about their lives free of fear is not universally recognised.

Putin’s Russia is the most notorious example of a culture where homophobia is given free rein, but there are dismal stories of persecution in many other countries. Last year the theme of the event was ‘The World’s A Disco’. It’s not if you try to live as an openly LGBTI person in some countries.

The organisers plan to extend the village party beyond St James’s Street next year. They have told the city council the format on Madeira Drive has yet to be developed but would include bars and music with a proposed opening time of 9.00pm to 3.00am.

Meanwhile the event in Preston Park has grown so rapidly that the organisers now say they need to shut down “sizeable” areas of the park for up to five days in the run-up to the event.

But there is a risk that Brighton Pride becomes one more apolitical mega-event. Glastonbury, for example, began life as a celebration of alternative lifestyles. It is now about as alternative as the Last Night of The Proms.

Do we want Pride to go the same way? LGBTI people around the world continue to take a brave stand in the face of fearsome pressure from the governments that should protect them. We should remember that long after the party hangovers have lifted.

John Keenan, journalist