Europeans flock to Madrid for Europride 2007

Anthony Cuesta | July 02, 2007

MADRID — Hundreds of thousands of gays, lesbians and their supporters from across Europe marched in Madrid Saturday to kick off Europride 2007 in the Spanish capital.

According to the AFP, forty-five floats – double the number of last year and some of them from faraway places such as Manchester, Marseille, Stockholm and Zurich – took part in the march through central Madrid under the slogan "Now Europe. Equality is possible."

The march ended in central Madrid, where a mega-concert was scheduled for later in the evening.

Formerly known as a conservative Catholic country, Spain has come a long way since the 1939-75 rule of dictator Francisco Franco, when homosexuality was outlawed.

Spain now stands at the forefront of gay rights after it became one of the world's first countries to equate homosexual marriage fully with the heterosexual one, including the right to adopt children, in 2005.

More than 3,300 gay couples have wed since Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government pushed the reform through against vehement opposition from the Catholic Church.

"We are very proud to receive the rest of Europe," Culture Minister Carmen Calvo said, reports the AFP. "Today Spain is an example of advanced democracy. "We must fight homophobia and reactionary attitudes.�

'Spain is different,' singer Marta Sanchez declared on inaugurating Europride, reports the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Gay Pride is now an established tradition in Madrid's largely homosexual Chueca neighborhood, where male and female gay and transsexual demonstrators indulge in an annual extravaganza of drag queens, music, leather and feathers.

Europride is also a chance for Spain to celebrate 30 years since its first gay rights protests took place, two years after the death of dictator Franco in 1975.

Most European countries have some kind of Gay Pride event, but often at different times of the year. The AFP reports that last weekend saw 1,000 people turn out in Athens, and about 400,000 in Berlin, while Stockholm, home to Europride 2008, has its event on August 4. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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