WIGAN Pride will go digital at the end of June after organisers decided to scrap its live plans in August over covid-19.

The borough usually holds an annual event with a parade, performances across two main stages and market stalls dotted throughout the town.

But as fears grew over the coronavirus and lockdown escalating, organisers decided they would have to cancel their original plans.

Instead, they’ve decided to hold Pride virtually, with the public able to tune in through Wigan Pride’s Facebook and YouTube channels on June 26.

The line-up is set to include Dolly Parton tribute act Definitely Dolly, singer-songwriter Zha Olu and local musician, Josh Robinson. Those watching at home will also be able to take part in competitions that will run throughout the evening.

Dan Bonney, co-founder of Wigan Pride said that there were never any plans to skip the event for a year.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Pride should be marked every year. It’s not just a one day event – it should be something that is ongoing. It’s a celebration of equality and the journey that the LGBT community has been on.”

Wigan has hosted a pride event each August since 2016. Bonney said it was set up with a view to people who can’t travel, or afford, the more high-profile events in big cities.

“Not everyone can go to Manchester. Doing it in the borough makes it accessible for everyone here. “

He said that the committee decided to bring the digital event forward to June – Pride month – in recognition of the fact that so many people have spent months self-isolating at home.

“There are people who like to attend every year – and go to lots of Prides every year. Those people obviously are quite isolated at the moment, and we don’t think it’s fair to exclude them.”

And he said the values that underpin Pride – of embracing diversity and recognising struggles that different communities face – should always be defended.

He said: “Equality isn’t here for everyone – and not just LGBT people, as we can see from the news at the moment. It’s not fair to pretend that the fight is over. That’s something that should be at the forefront of people’s mind, people being treated fairly.”

Wigan councillor Paula Wakefield, the town hall’s lead member on equality, said: “It’s sad that we won’t be able to hold the live event in August this year, the important thing at the moment is to keep people safe and that had to be the priority, but I’m so glad that we’re still going to mark Wigan Pride 2020 in some way.

“We have come such a long way towards being a fair and equal society but unfortunately rights that have been hard won can easily be taken away again and in some countries LGBTQ+ people still don’t have equal rights. It is important to remind people of the struggles that some people still have, whilst encouraging everyone to strive for and celebrate equality.

“Wigan Pride gives a fantastic message; we’re a borough that values equal rights and fairness and we want every resident to feel that they can be who they want to be. A digital event could help to get this message about our town out to the world,” she said.