Hundreds of thousands of gays, lesbians and transsexuals partied down Brazil's world famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday (October 12) to call for an end to homophobic violence and discrimination.
DJs blasted dance music from trucks and colorful floats which drove down the city's main beach avenue as people in the dense crowds danced and celebrated in hot, sunny weather, some wearing wigs, masks or carnival-style outfits.
Organizers were hoping for a turnout of over one million people, but military police estimated some 900 thousand would crowd the beach throughout the day.
Rio de Janeiro's government handed out over fifty thousand condoms throughout the evening as a part of its campaign against Aids.
Claudio Nascimento, head of Rio's gay association Grupo Arco-Iris (Rainbow Group), said he saw support for the gay cause rise significantly since the first parade in 1996. "This is a victory, this is a conquest, it shows us that society is opening its eyes and noticing that respecting differences is fundamental for democracy to evolve," he said.
Rio's Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders Parade Association chose the slogan "Homophobia is a crime!" for the thirteenth parade since the annual event started with no more than 2,000 people. Activist Toni Reis said gays only want equal rights.
"Our objective is to avoid discrimination, to earn respect for the (gay) civil unions and that's all we want, we don't want any privileges, only our rights," he said, holding hands with his British husband.