Thousands of people on Saturday took to the streets to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in cities across Europe, with marchers waving rainbow flags and condemning discrimination in all its forms.
Peaceful parades took place across European cities including the capitals of Italy, Greece, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
In Bucharest, about 3,000 people marched through the city center with many celebrating a ruling made by the EU’s top court earlier this week.
The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Romanian gay man Relu Coman’s right to have his US husband Robert “Clai” Hamilton live with him in Romania.
“Clai and I are two people who did not accept discrimination. If more of us did the same, the world would be better,” Coman told reporters at the march.
Romania does not recognize same-sex marriage and had argued that Hamilton was not entitled to EU residency rights awarded to spouses.
The European court ruling means that same-sex partners of EU citizens have the right to live in any member state whatever their nationality, even in countries that do not recognize gay marriage.
In Warsaw, tens of thousands marched for the annual “Equality Parade” to protest discrimination not just against LGBT people but also women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.
Organizers said 45,000 people took part, while the town hall gave a lower estimate of 23,000.
“I come from a small town and first marched for equality 10 years ago, without telling my parents,” Dominika Wroblewska said at the Warsaw parade.
“It’s very moving for me, especially since I came out a year ago,” she said.
Her partner, Alicja Nauman, said she was marching “because I want to live in a place where all love is accepted, because love knows no boundaries.”
“The situation in Poland is bad because same-sex couples cannot marry or adopt children,” she said.
Thousands, including members of a LGBT police association, turned out for the 14th edition of Gay Pride Parade in Athens.
The Athens events had previously been largely shunned by institutions and notably harassed by far-right groups, but this year’s edition was attended by a delegation from the liberal-conservative New Democracy party.
Not to be outdone, the facade of parliament, overlooking Syntagma Square at the heart of the festivities, was symbolically lit up in all colors of the rainbow in a government initiative.
Since the leftist government took office in 2015, Greece has extended civil partnerships to same-sex couples, authorized sex changes from the age of 15 and legislated for children to be adopted by same-sex partners.
The Baltic Pride Parade in Latvia’s capital, Riga, included members of the LGBT community from neighboring Estonia and Lithuania.
One of the organizers, Kaspars Zalitis, told reporters that about 8,000 people marched.
In Rome, thousands marched just days after Italian Minister for Family and Disability Lorenzo Fontana from the far-right League party caused a storm by saying that homosexual families do not legally exist.
“It’s very important that we’re here, because we need to respond and show that it’s not true that we don’t exist,” said a 27-year-old protester, who only identified themselves as Andrea.
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