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Vienna, Tours, Lisbon, Metz, Florence, Vilnius, Biarritz: Gay Pride Parades Between Party and Commemoration
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of June 21, 2016) All Gay Pride celebrations held throughout Europe combined the usual party spirit with contemplation to commemorate the victims of Orlando. There were Gay Pride parades in Vienna (Austria), several Italian cities (like Florence), Lisbon (Portugal), Biarritz, Metz and Tours (France). In absolutely all those places, people observed a minute’s silence, and in some cities additional activities were performed to honor the victims of the Pulse Club in Orlando.
Public safety measures had been intensified everywhere to keep the risk of unwanted surprises down to a minimum. Obviously, the goal was to also show pride and resolve in the face of homophobic barbarism.
About 130,000 people participated in the Rainbow Pride in Vienna, Austria. Christian Kern was the first Austrian chancellor to participate in it this year. He stepped up to the stage and held the closing speech in front of a cheering crowd:
The Austrian chancellor promised equal rights for all and called it a disgrace that Austria has not yet granted homosexuals the same rights as heterosexuals.
There were many floats at the parade, yet one was missing: The “Ghost Float”, which was symbolized by an empty spot in the parade, and which represented the 49 victims of Orlando’s Pulse Club who were shot by assassin Omar Mateen. The club Hosi Wien, the organizers, had chosen to express their solidarity with the dead and injured of Orlando this way.
In Florence, about 30,000 people were present at the Gay Pride parade – one week after the one in Rome and one week before the one in Milan, where hundred thousands will be participating. More Gay Pride parades were held in other Italian cities such as Genoa, Palermo, Treviso and Varese.
Some of these Italian cities put special attention to the refugees. As homosexuals, many of them had been persecuted in their own countries, which is why they tried to escape to Italy, Greece or other countries.
Unfortunately, people did not turn up in large numbers at the parades in some other European capitals: Lisbon (Portugal) only attracted about 5,000 people and Vilnius (Lithuania) only about 2,000. In Metz (Eastern France), only about 3,000 people followed the calling of the local LGBT center Couleurs gaies.
Here is a short impression of the Gay Pride parade in Lisbon (Euronews, original soundtrack):
Once again, the very slow political changes were criticized in Italy and France. Italy only recently created a very minimalistic registered partnership for same-sex couples, and in France, artificial insemination is not yet allowed for lesbians, and transsexual people are still severely discriminated.
This is a short video on the Gay Pride parade in Biarritz (Southwest France). About 600 people walked in the parade during unfavorable weather conditions.
In Sofia (Bulgaria), about 1,000 people were in the streets, including some foreign ambassadors. Their call “Stop homophobia!” certainly was a reference to Orlando but to the Bulgarian situation just as well.
Although the Berlin pride (CSD) is only on July 23, the Brandenburg Gate was illuminated in the rainbow colors to already now commemorate the 49 dead and about 50 injured during the shooting in the Pulse Club in Orlando.
And in Istanbul? For “safety reasons,” the Turkish government hat forbidden the Trans Pride of June 19. It seems quite interesting that the Turkish police force is able to secure huge numbers of people gathered to honor the regime. However, the police must have felt so terribly threatened by about a hundred gays and lesbians gathered on the Taksim square that they felt urged to fight them using rubber bullets and tear gas.
The same lame excuse was used in Turkey to prohibit Istanbul Gay Pride, planned for June 26: Safety reasons and alleged public order offence. The possible trouble and offence would likely come from fundamentalist Muslims who reject such events during the fasting month of Ramadan. This is why Istanbul Gay Pride may not be held this year for the first time since 2003. What a sad testimonial for a dysfunctional democracy and an autocratic ruler.