Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Tens of thousands of gays march, dance in Rio to celebrate gay rights
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Tens of thousands of Brazilians marched and danced from one famous Rio beach to another June 27 to celebrate gay pride and encourage legal reforms to give homosexuals more rights in South America’s largest country.
Organizers of the march said 500,000 people participated, but authorities had no immediate comment on the size of the crowd heading from Copacabana Beach to neighboring Ipanema Beach.
Dancing to techno music blaring from sound trucks, some participants were decked out in drag while others wore elaborate Carnival costumes or their bathing suits in sunny, 82-degree Fahrenheit weather.
Toni Reis, secretary-general of the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, wore a dark suit matching the outfit of his longtime partner, David Harrad.
The two last year won a court victory ordering officials to grant a permanent Brazilian visa to Harrad, who is British. But they say they deserve rights similar to those that heterosexual married couples enjoy, and can’t get them without permission to marry or join in a civil union.
Civil unions between same-sex couples are permitted only in Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul.
The practice began this year and has not spread to other states, but the unions have stirred surprisingly little controversy in the world’s biggest Roman Catholic country.
A bill to allow civil unions across Brazil has been held up in Congress for years by Evangelical Protestant lawmakers.
Thousands of revelers parade for gay pride in Europe, around the world
BERLIN – Hundreds of thousands of revelers wearing everything from full Victorian garb and designer gowns to skimpy leather and construction hats celebrated gay pride in cities around the world June 27.
Berlin saw one of Europe’s largest parades. To the sound of thumping techno music, the city’s openly gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit led floats in the 12th annual celebration of Christopher Street Day, commemorating the start of the gay rights movement in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1969.
Police estimated that about 200,000 people snaked their way from the chic Kurfuerstendamm boulevard to the landmark Victory Column, while organizers said the crowd swelled beyond 500,000.
Wowereit told the cheering crowd that while the parade was “fun and colorful,” the gay community still was marginalized.
“We must fight against that,” he said.
Parents led the way in Mexico City as thousands marched to celebrate gay pride and promote tolerance.
With dance music blasting from floats carrying mostly young men, the march stretched across four lanes of traffic and measured about 10 city blocks as it wound from the Angel of Independence monument to Mexico City’s central plaza.
“We have to keep up the fight, the peaceful fight” for homosexuals’ rights, said Jorge Sanchez, 45, of Mexico City, whose T-shirt declared, “I love my gay son.”
Sanchez, who led the parade in a vehicle with other parents, said his 23-year-old son announced his homosexuality in December.
Canada’s largest gay and lesbian pride celebration – a weeklong festival in Toronto that started June 21 – continued Saturday with petitions calling for protection of same-sex marriage rights, an issue in the national election July 5.
Activists fear if Conservatives win control of the government from the Liberal Party, they would overrule decisions last year by courts in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec allowing gay couples to marry.
“The fact this is still a contentious issue, I think, speaks even more loudly about how important Pride as a festival really is,” said Ayse Turak, co-chair of festival organizer Pride Toronto.
In Paris, the gay pride march had a similar political tone, coming three weeks after the mayor of Begles, near Bordeaux, celebrated the first marriage of a same-sex couple in France and was suspended for a month for defying authorities.
Conservative President Jacques Chirac has asked for dialogue on the subject, and a bill condemning discriminatory words of a sexist or homophobic nature has been proposed. But many of the 90 groups backing Saturday’s march consider it insufficient.
Under the slogan “Enough Hypocrisy, Equality Now,” thousands marched with 60 floats from a Left Bank square to the Bastille and across the Seine River, led by Paris’ openly gay Mayor Bertrand Delanoe.
A gay pride parade planned earlier this month in Warsaw, Poland, was banned by Mayor Lech Kaczynski, who said he feared clashes with opponents planning their own demonstration. Poland’s Gay and Lesbian Association failed in attempts to have provincial authorities overturn the ban, and Berlin’s marchers pledged to support them in trying to parade again next year.
“The ban on demonstrating for lesbians and gays is an infringement on basic rights,” said Volker Beck, a lawmaker in Germany’s Greens party. “That is in no way acceptable.”