By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Brazil were out in full force on Sunday, September 30th to celebrate Rio de Janeiro’s 23rd annual LGBTI parade at Copacabana beach.
Some 1.5 million people descended onto the famed beach under the slogan “Vote for Ideas, not People” a not-so-subtle nod to Brazil’s upcoming presidential election, which some have called the most contentious since the country’s return to democracy in the 1980s.
“This year we made sure to have the parade before the elections, exactly so we could talk about it,” exclaimed Almir França president of the Arco-Íris (Rainbow) Group, to Globo news. “It is extremely important that we vote for causes that support respect for all and diversity,” he added. “We are experiencing a time of intellectual backwardness in the middle of 2018.”
Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro has drawn the ire of women and the LGBT community across the globe for his incendiary statements as a congressman. The former military officer has said that to have a gay son or daughter was “equal to death,” and he once told a fellow congresswoman who called him a rapist that he would never rape her because she did not “deserve to be raped.”
Toni Reis, president of the LGBTI National Alliance, added that the goal of Sunday’s parade was to reclaim the dignity of a community who have a significant history.
“Regardless of who wins these elections, we need to have a dialogue with everyone,” Reis said. “We do not want to destroy families, we just want respect.”
According to officials, Sunday’s parade was relatively peaceful and free from altercation other than an individual who allegedly pulled a gold chain off the neck of a woman. Military police were able to apprehend the alleged perpetrator.
Sunday’s parade totals of 1.5 million surpassed last year’s totals of 1.2 million.