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Toronto celebrates pride after gay marriage ruling

June 29, 2003

TORONTO - Thousands of visitors descended on Toronto Sunday for the city's annual Gay Pride parade, traditionally one of the world's largest host cities of the gathering but recently affected by a SARS epidemic.

The parade was the climax of a week of celebrations, with gays and lesbians exuberant after Canada's Court of Appeal struck down the federal definition of marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.

The parade also allowed Toronto to recover some of its cheer, following a decline in tourism due to the epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which has left 38 dead.

But police and organizers declined to say how many people were present.

Last year, organizers said one million people attended the Toronto Gay Pride parade.

This year's event followed on from last week's historic ruling deciding that the federal definition of marriage went against Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The move gave the go-ahead for Ontario city clerks to begin registering same-sex marriages.

Toronto's city clerk's office was to stay open during the weekend for couples -- including same-sex couples -- to fill out a marriage license application, also keeping its wedding chamber open for ceremonies.

Around 250 same-sex couples have married in Toronto since it became legal to do so June 10.

Elsewhere, only the Netherlands and Belgium have legally recognized same-sex marriages.

- Sapa-AP 

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