HUNDREDS of thousands of people descended onto Madrid’s streets at the weekend to march for global LGBT rights.
Fifty-two floats took the festivities, which was backed by all major political parties, through the Spanish capital, followed by a slow-moving mass of people decked out in rainbow flags and colourful outfits, dancing to music in the sun.
The For LGBTI Rights All Over the World march included several groups from other countries, as well as organisations ranging from rural lesbians to gay and lesbian police officers.
“For all the people in countries who are suffering persecution, we have to celebrate and make visible our pride,” Spanish LGBT federation leader Jesus Generelo told the large crowd from an outdoor stage after the march.
Four activists read a manifesto urging the European Union to help export LGBTI rights around the world, with particular emphasis on countries that discriminate against, criminalise or torture gay people.
It also demanded that the World Health Organisation stop categorising transgender identity as a mental illness.
The massive outdoor gathering was the highlight of the 10-day World Pride 2017 festival, which ended yesterday. The multinational event was held in London in 2012, Toronto in 2014 and it will next be in New York in 2019.
While Spanish police had no indications of planned attacks by extremist groups, they reduced the traffic flow, banned heavy lorries and deployed 3,500 police in the city centre.
Spain legalised same-sex marriage and adoptions in 2005 and all government offices will soon be legally obliged to remove all barriers to equality.