SAO PAULO—Millions of people danced and marched down the main avenue of Brazil’s most populous city Sunday in an event billed as the world’s largest Gay Pride parade.
“Love one another. Enough with homophobia!” was the overall theme of the parade, which included men and women dressed in colorful feathered costumes, transvestite samba dancers, and drag queens wearing a multitude of rainbow outfits.
An enormous rainbow flag, symbol of the gay rights movement, stretched for nearly a block and was carried aloft by the crowd.
Men in swimsuits danced to blaring techno music on floats decked with multi-colored balloon arrangements that slowly made their way down the crowded streets.
Organizers said that more than four million people participated in the event, which has previously made it into the Guiness Book of Records as the largest Gay Pride celebration in the world.
Participants were celebrating the approval of same-sex marriage in New York state on Friday, as well as a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling in May in favor of civil unions.
Brazil’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on May 5 that partners in a same-sex union had the same legal rights as a man and woman in a marriage.
“Those who opt for a homosexual union cannot be treated less than equally as citizens,” Justice Camen Lucia said at the time.
Gay rights groups say that although Brazil is a relatively open society in terms of homosexuality, hundreds of gays are killed each year in homophobic attacks.
In Latin America, other Gay Pride marches were held over the weekend in Colombia, Mexico, Chile and El Salvador.
In Colombia, celebrants took to the streets in Bogota, Cali and Medellin.
“It is a march of joy, to celebrate diversity and the respect for differences,” said Marcela Sanchez, who heads the Diverse Colombia Foundation.
Uruguay became the first country in Latin America in 2007 to legalize civil unions for homosexual couples. In 2010 Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage.
In Colombia gay couples can form civil unions, though a ruling by the Constitutional Court on same-sex marriage may be coming in the next months.
The Gay Pride parades are held each year in late June to coincide with the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, which activists see as the birth of the modern gay rights movement.
Tens of thousands of elated gays, lesbians and their friends participated in a triumphant Gay Pride parade in New York city on Sunday, capping days of celebration over the landmark new marriage law.