Monday, 26 May 2008

Brazil's 12th Annual Gay Pride

MORE than a million homosexuals and transsexuals paraded in Brazil's business capital Sao Paulo today in what was billed as the world's largest gay march to urge an end to violence and discrimination.

DJs blasted dance music from trucks that drove up and down the city's skyscraper-lined main avenue as people in the dense crowds danced and celebrated on a hot, sunny day, some wearing wigs, masks and carnival-style outfits.

According to witnesses, the event attracted at least one million participants. Police declined to give an official crowd count although one officer on the scene estimated more than three million people took part and the Sao Paulo Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders Parade Association said attendance was more than five million.

Sao Paulo authorities and Brazilian oil firm Petrobras backed the event, which has become a big money-earner for the city and for tourism in Latin America's biggest country.

"This is the diversity the country wants, the diversity that we have to foster as a country seeking a tourist niche among the gay community," Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy, a former Sao Paulo mayor, said aboard one of the trucks.

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