SÃO PAULO – Colour, music and hundreds of thousands of people in exotic (and often very revealing!) fancy dress flooded the streets of central São Paulo this Sunday as the city’s 18th annual Gay Pride Parade – officially the world’s biggest – rode into town.
Police estimates put the number at around 100,000, but correspondents say the figure was likely to be over a million. Organisers have yet to release an estimate but were hoping for at least 3 million revellers.
Whatever the figure, numbers were up on last year’s damp event, as hot, sunny weather encouraged partygoers onto the streets.
This year’s parade called for the criminalisation of discrimination of members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, as well as the approval of the Gender Identity Bill, guaranteeing simplified legal recognition of transgendered people.
As well as the political aspect to the parade, it is also seen as a family day out, and people of all ages take part in the Carnival-like event, which traditionally begins at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) and parades along the central business avenue, Avenida Paulista.
After the many dancer-adorned floats had left the parade, the partying continued and is expected to go on well into the night.
As many as 400,000 tourists, both Brazilian and foreign, are thought to have come to Brazil’s biggest city for the event, which is funded in large part by the local government and state companies.
Some 2 million Brazilian reais ($900,000) are invested into the event, but the government maintains it attracts around 220 million reais ($100 million) to the local economy.
São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin, city mayor Fernando Haddad and Special Secretary of Human Rights Ideli Salvatti were among high-profile politicians at the event.
Speaking to journalists at the opening ceremony of the parade, Haddad reaffirmed his “repudiation of all kinds of LGBT crimes” and support for proposed anti-discrimination legislation.
Alckmin announced the future installation a Museum of Sexual Diversity on Avenida Paulista after the success of smaller-scale exhibition in the city’s República metro station.