Tue, May 27, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Millions celebrate gay pride in Brazil with parade

KEEPING THE BEATThe parade caps a full week of attractions, including the Cultural Gay Fair, Gay Day and the International GLS Tourism Forum, officials said

AP , SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

Drag queens participate in the Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday. The celebration is the biggest gay gathering in the world and it is now in its fifth edition, with 3.5 million participants. The event hopes to draw even more participants next year.

PHOTO: EPA

Millions of people waving rainbow flags and wearing lavish carnival costumes paraded in South America’s biggest city on Sunday to celebrate gay pride and demand an end to homophobia and sexism.

To the beat of music blasting from more than 20 sound trucks, gay men, lesbians and cross-dressers danced and cheered along the skycraper-lined Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo’s financial heart.

Organizers estimated that about 5 million people attended the 12th annual Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade, traditionally one of the world’s biggest. Local authorities did not give a crowd estimate, but said millions were likely present.

“This is a great party, everyone mingles,” participant Cesar Alves told the government’s Agencia Brasil news service.

Tourism officials said the parade was expected to attract nearly 330,000 visitors, 20 percent more than last year’s event. The event was projected to bring about US$115 million to the city and help create 13,500 direct and indirect jobs.

“We still see cases of homophobia in the country,” Brazilian Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy told the crowd from the top of a sound truck. “We still don’t have a law making homophobia a crime, and that needs to change. Congress has to approve this law.”

The parade caps a full week of attractions, including the Cultural Gay Fair, Gay Day and the International GLS Tourism Forum, the city’s tourism department said.

Authorities arrested five people for small robberies during the parade, and a man was injured in the leg after being run over by one of the sound trucks.

Last year, at least 3 million people packed the streets of Sao Paulo for what organizers said was the world’s largest gay pride parade.

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