Thousands gather for Paris LGBT Pride parade amid tight security

FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP | Costumed participants celebrate the "Gay Pride" parade in Paris on July 2, 2016

Thousands of people marched Saturday in Paris as part of the annual LGBT Pride parade, with security beefed up for the event just three weeks after an attack on a gay club in Orlando, Florida.


Bikers draped in rainbow flags opened the parade, others danced to the beats of techno music as floats made their way from the quays of the Seine close to the Louvre, and on to Place de la Bastille.

But this year’s festivities had special resonance following the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which claimed the lives of 49 people on June 12.

"Three weeks after the attack, the LGBT community in Orlando organised rallies as an act of resistance. We must not give in to fear. We need more than ever to reaffirm our visibility and pride in the streets," said Amandine Miguel, spokesman for the Inter-LGBT association, organisers of the parade.

Up to three times more security -- a total of a thousand police officers and gendarmes -- were mobilised to secure the route that had been shortened this year from the usual 4.6 kilometres to two kilometres.

The event, which ordinarily takes place on the last weekend of June, also had to be postponed as police resources have already been stretched for the 2016 Euro football championships being held across France.

Several politicians took part in the march, including Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay and Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

"Our city will always be a bulwark against homophobia because openness and tolerance are part of its DNA," said Hidalgo in an interview with the gay magazine Têtu on Saturday.

"After Orlando, we have to reaffirm more than ever the republican values of equality, tolerance and respect," tweeted French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The theme for the 2016 parade highlights the transgendered community, those considered "most invisible" by the LGBT community, according to the Inter-LGBT association. "The rights of trans people are an urgent issue. Stop forced sterilisation and abuse,” proclaimed one banner.

As the last Pride parade before France’s 2017 presidential election, organisers wanted to remind President François Hollande of his "broken promises", particularly with regards to medically assisted fertility rights for same sex couples.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP

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