Tens of thousands of spectators lined the streets of Berlin to watch the parade of around 50 colourful floats – with smaller events happening simultaneously across Germany and Switzerland. Last year, organizers said 700,000 people attended in the German capital alone.
2013’s election year parade was noticeably more political than previous parades, with protesters marching under the motto “No more empty speeches! Demonstrate! Vote! Change!”
Participants demanded legal equality for gay couples and families, an issue which has remained high on the political agenda this year.
At the end of March, the Bundesrat upper house of parliament passed an initiative to allow gays to marry, but this has yet to be put before the Bundestag lower house of parliament.
In April, parade organisers said they would exclude Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party in protest against the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
However, members of the LSU gay and lesbian party sub-group were permitted to take part on Saturday with a smaller-than-usual float.
Social Democrat Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said he thought it was right to protest against “ill-judged policies,” but was less certain about excluding a party from the parade. Last year’s parade was opened by CDU regional party chairman Frank Henkel, who this year declined to attend.
The 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 US gay rights movement.