By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than three million people attended the 21st Gay Pride Parade in São Paulo on Sunday, according to organizers. Held in the city’s iconic Avenida Paulista, the parade registered the presence of several famous Brazilian artists and singers.
“All of you have the right to go home without facing homophobia, without facing disrespect or aggression. Nothing can affect our right to love, our right to be who we are,” Claudia Regina dos Santos Garcia, president of the LGBT Pride Parade Association of São Paulo, told a cheering crowd at the beginning of the event.
This year’s theme was ‘Independently from our beliefs, no religion is law. All for a secular state’. “Religion is an individual option of every citizen and has nothing to do with civil law, with the right of society as a whole. Let’s be free, be whatever you want, as long as you are within the law,” said model and TV presenter Fernanda Lima on top of one of the floats.
The parade, considered the largest annual event of its kind in South America, attracts an increasingly greater number of families with each passing year. This year children’s strollers shared the street with adults dressed in glittery costumes and groups with banners demanding more LBGT rights.
Journalist Luiza Barros took her 2-year-old daughter to see the parade. “It’s the first time I bring her, and I think it’s important to have this event and the understanding of diversity and respect of (others’) choices,” Barros told a government news agency.