Helsinki Pride, Finland's largest human rights and cultural event, celebrates joy and rebellion this year because we need both to change the world. President Tarja Halonen will serve as the event's patron in 2023.

President Halonen has a historical perspective on promoting the human rights of sexual and gender minorities.

She served as the chairperson of Seta ry (the Finnish LGBTI Rights Organization) in 1980-81, contributed to advancing equality and equal opportunities in the workplace, and has consistently highlighted the theme of equality.

Significant societal reforms have been achieved in Finland regarding the realization of the rights of sexual and gender minorities in my lifetime. Human rights and fundamental rights belong to everyone. Social changes have required courage from both minority representatives and their supporters to stand against inequality and discrimination. Achieving these changes also requires patient cooperation and support from the majority.

Equality and equal opportunities among people are ongoing processes with various challenges. There is still room for improvement in legislation as well as in people's everyday attitudes. These are always significant matters for a person's identity and life. Pride has become a joyful celebration here in Helsinki, but this tradition does not continue on its own.

"Thank you for joining us. Pride is an opportunity to celebrate diversity with joy but also to maintain the spark of rebellious spirit that has successfully changed the world," says President Tarja Halonen.

"We want to honor Finnish work for equality and equal opportunities and the roots of the LGBTQ+ movement. We invited President Tarja Halonen to be the patron of Helsinki Pride 2023 primarily because she possesses valuable historical and lived experience of the different phases and development paths of LGBTQ+ rights in Finland," says Senni Moilanen, Chairperson of Helsinki Pride Community.

Helsinki Pride 2023 will feature a rich program from June 1 to July 2, and the event will culminate in the Pride Parade and Park Festival on July 1, 2023.