Berlin gay pride parade draws hundreds of thousands | News | DW | 23.06.2012
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Berlin gay pride parade draws hundreds of thousands

More than half a million people have taken to the streets of Berlin for the city's annual gay pride parade. They protested discrimination against homosexuals - especially in Russia - and celebrated sexuality.

Forty floats and thousands of people paraded from the district of Kreuzberg to Brandenburg Gate demanding respect for the rights of gays, lesbians and homosexuals at Christopher Street Day in Berlin on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands lined the streets to watch.

"As long as there is discrimination against homosexuals in society, it is important to go out on the streets in protest," said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who is himself openly gay.

A man and a woman in German traditional dress

Discrimination hasn't been stamped out in Germany

He pointed out that gay men and women are still subject to discrimination in Germany and are victims of attacks.

Saturday's parade was far more political than it has been in recent years.

The organizers had put the focus of the parade on criticism of Russia, where numerous regions, including St. Petersburg, have banned what is deemed "propaganda for homosexuality," which effectively makes it a crime for same-sex couples to hold hands or fly a rainbow flag.

Cannon aimed at Russian Embassy

The route took participants past Berlin's Senate, its memorial to homosexuals persecuted under the Nazis, the Reichstag and the Russian Embassy, where a confetti cannon shot mountains of colored paper scraps at the building.

Russian gay-rights activists fly their national flag next to a poster with a caricature painting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during the Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade in Berlin, June 23, 2012.

Homophobia in Russia was a target

Christopher Street Day (CSD) pays tribute to the Stonewall uprising in June 28, 1969, when police harassment at a New York gay bar prompted days of rioting and the birth of the US gay rights movement.

Berlin and Cologne put on Germany's biggest CSD parades. Cologne's is set for July 3.

ncy/jlw (dapd, AFP, dpa)