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Berlin Pride marked by huge crowd and colorful costumes

July 22, 2023

Supporters of LGBTQ communities followed dozens of colorful floats through the streets of the German capital. The event was supported by most German lawmakers.

People take part in the 45th Christopher Street Day Berlin Pride parade, in Berlin, Germany on July 22, 2023
The motto for this year's Berlin Pride was "Be their voice — and ours! For more empathy and solidarity!" Image: ANNEGRET HILSE/REUTERS

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of the German capital Berlin on Saturday in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) rights.

The 45th Berlin Pride parade, known in Germany as the Christopher Street Day or CSD featured around 75 trucks that led the huge crowd through the city's downtown on a 7.4-kilometer (4.6-mile) route.

Hundreds of thousands march in Berlin Pride parade

House and electro beats could be heard playing as participants partied in colorful, neon outfits under the motto "Be their voice — and ours! For more empathy and solidarity!"

The celebration was linked to political demands to work for an open society and against hate and exclusion.

There were also many expressions of solidarity for Ukraine over Russia's invasion and Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Oleksii Makeiev addressed participants from a blue and yellow themed float.

Sequins, heels and flesh dominate

Beyond the political demands, the parade was noted for its imaginative costumes, extravagant wigs, fetish outfits, high heels and lots of naked skin.

One participant even walked through the streets dressed as the Lioness of Kleinmachnow, mocking a massive two-day hunt near Berlin for an escaped lioness that was called off on Friday after it was realized she was probably just a wild boar.

Police and organizers initially did not want to give estimates on the number of participants.

Large numbers of people follow floats through the streets to mark Berlin Pride on July 22, 2023
Local media said hundreds of thousands of people turned out for Berlin PrideImage: Hannes P Albert/dpa/picture alliance

Ahead of the parade, the organizers had expected about 500,000 attendees — significantly more than last year's 350,000-strong crowd.

Berlin's conservative mayor Kai Wegner and Bärbel Bas, president of the German parliament, opened the parade together calling on people to fight discrimination against LGBTQ people. 

"We have to send a clear signal for a free, diverse, multifaceted society. We have achieved a lot, but we still have a lot to do," said Bas. 

Berlin mayor calls for better rights

Wegner also promised an amendment to the German Basic Law during his opening speech at the parade to include sexual identity.

"My commitment to the Berlin Senate is: We want to change Article 3 of the Basic Law. Sexual identity must be included in it. This is my promise," Wegner said. 

Wegner, a politician for the center-right Christian Democratic Party (CDU) was subjected to loud booing during his speech.

He is the first Berlin mayor to attend the opening of the Pride march.

Germany's constitution has protections against discrimination based on sex, ethnicity, race, language, home country and origin, faith and religious or political views, but not specifically sexual orientation.

The LGBTQ+ community has long been calling for the article to be amended.

Berlin Pride participants wear outrageous costumes as they march through downtown Berlin on July 22, 2023
Outlandish costumes are always a feature of Berlin PrideImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Chancellor, Bundestag offer symbol of support

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wished the participants a happy celebration on Twitter, adding: "Diversity is our strength."

The rainbow flag was raised outside the chancellory earlier Saturday and on the Reichstag building, the home of the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag.

The only party not to support the event was the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). One AfD lawmaker, Martin Reichardt, took to Twitter to criticize the raising of the rainbow flag, saying it stands for the "sexualization of children."

The parade was due to end with an evening concert at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, including a performance by the German rock band Tokio Hotel. 

Christopher Street Day shares its roots with Pride as celebrated in other countries and dates back to events in June 1969, when police officers in New York stormed the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan, triggering a historic riot.

mm/ab (AFP, dpa)