By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With the slogan “I am my Gender Identity”, hundreds of thousands of people flocked Copacabana Beach on Sunday for the 21st Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) parade.
This year’s parade focused on the group’s fight for the approval of a bill which would require Brazil’s public health system (SUS) and private health plans to pay for hormonal treatments and sex-change surgeries to all those over eighteen years of age.
“It’s not all about the established gender that is stamped on one’s ID card,” Almir França, President of the Arco-Iris (Rainbow) Group told government news sources, emphasizing that gender roles and identities are changing.
With eight trio eletricos (large flatbed trucks with massive sound systems) the parade moved along the beachfront with its 124-meter long rainbow flag.
As in previous years the LGBT community was joined by the group Mães Pela Diversidade (Mothers for Diversity) who fight for their children’s right to live in a more harmonious world with respect, love and equality’.
A coffin and wreaths were brought to the parade to represent the three hundred victims of homophobia, killed this year alone throughout Brazil.
“At the delicate political and ideological moment we are living in, the country where conservative waves seek in every way to prevent achievements and diminish the rights of the LGBT population, misrepresenting concepts and venting untruths, actions such as the Rio LGBT Parade are essential,” said Julio Moreira, director of the Arco-Iris Group.
While the military police did not disclose the number of participants, the parade’s organizers calculated that more than 600,000 attended this year’s parade.
Among the services provided at the parade, approximately 400,000 condoms were distributed to participants.