By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With the slogan “I was born like this, I was raised like this, I will always be like this: Respect me”, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday in downtown São Paulo during the 19th Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) parade. While the military police did not disclose the number of participants, march organizers calculated that more than two million people attended this year’s parade.
Among those attending the event were U.S. actors from series such as ‘Lost’, ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘Sense8’. With eighteen sound cars, the event extended itself all along one of São Paulo’s most famous streets, Avenida Paulista. Marchers with signs and posters criticized politicians and religious groups who they say are intolerant towards the LBGT community.
“To foment intolerance and incite violence, in our country is something that goes against our Constitution. Our presence here is a commitment against any type of intolerance, and today in particular against the LGBT community. We can not admit any type of regression or reversal [of acquired rights],” said São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad, during a press conference before the event.
Haddad and São Paulo governor, Geraldo Alckmin, were questioned and criticized by organizers due to the reduction in investments during this year’s parade from R$2 million in previous years to R$1.3 million for this year’s event.
Activists also demanded speedier and more decisive action by government authorities towards homophobic crimes. “We are fighting for rights, equality and respect,” said Sonia Martins to Agencia Brasil.
Martins came from Brasília to participate in the event with a group dubbed “Mothers for Diversity”. According to her the support of fathers and mothers is very important now, when a conservative discourse about family has gained power in Congress, with one of its main spokesperson being Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies.