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Gay pride parade in Berlin draws 700,000

BERLIN--Camp costumes and colorful drag flooded the streets of Berlin on Saturday as hundreds of thousands took part in the city's annual Christopher Street Day gay pride parade.

Marching and dancing to thumping techno music, the crowds made their way from the cosmopolitan Kreuzberg district to the Brandenburg Gate, where DJs and musicians were scheduled to keep the party going until midnight.

The German capital's gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, kicked off the event. Organizers said 700,000 people had taken part in the parade, which celebrated its 34th anniversary this year.

The treatment of homosexuals in Russia was a hot topic at the parade, with some participants bearing giant portraits of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev retouched in the flamboyant style of gay French artists Pierre and Gilles.

Gay pride parades are banned in Moscow and since 2006 have been systematically dispersed when organizers try to start them.

Homosexuality was a crime in Russia until 1993 and was classified as a mental illness until 1999.

Christopher Street Day parades commemorate the Stonewall uprising of June 28, 1969, when police harassment at a New York gay bar sparked five days of rioting that launched the U.S. gay rights movement.

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Participants dance during the Berlin's annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade on Saturday, June 23. Gays and lesbians all around the world are celebrating the Christopher Street Day (CSD) gay and lesbian pride parade, arguably the most important date in their calendar.

(AFP)

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