• Spain's news in English
 

Europe's 'gay capital' stages huge Pride parade

Published: 06 Jul 2014 10:16 GMT+02:00

Hundreds of thousands crammed the Spanish capital's broad central avenues to the din of drums and whistles as rainbow-coloured flags fluttered in the sunshine.

Dressed as everything from policemen to ancient warriors with swords and helmets, drag queens, transsexuals and other party-goers danced in the street and waved from double-decker buses that crawled slowly through the crowd.

"I'm having a great time. This is an opportunity for me to offer myself to the world of showbiz," said Julia Woman, a lanky man of 30 in a blond wig and leopard-print dress, whose high heels made him nearly six and half feet (two metres) tall.

"It's also a chance to defend my rights on the subject of homophobia and all that. And also to have a bit of fun, a bit of personal satisfaction."

Organizers expected more than a million people, including thousands from abroad, at the evening parade, the main event in five days of festivities by defenders of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

"I came because I was told it is the biggest Gay Pride parade, and that's true," said Christophe Probst, 47, a Frenchman who came from Paris for the party.

"It's fantastic. The whole city gets involved. There is nothing else like it."

The festival kicked off on Wednesday night with an open air appearance by Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian transvestite who won the Eurovision song contest in May.

That was followed on Thursday by an annual highlight of the festival: men in high heels and dresses raced on foot through Madrid's gay district, Chueca, cheered on by crowds.

Wurst sang on Friday evening alongside various Spanish stars at a concert in the Vicente Calderon stadium, home to Atletico Madrid football club.

Organizers call it the biggest pride party in Europe. The two LGBT groupings behind Madrid Pride, COGAM and FELGTB, said they expected 1.2 million people to join in.

Madrid police said nearly 500 officers would be in the streets for security.

Pride events in other European capitals have reported hundreds of thousands of participants.

The groups that organised the march dedicated it this year to victims of discrimination in countries where gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals are punished, sometimes by death.

"We are organising one of the best Pride events in the world," said Boti G. Rodrigo, leader of FELGTB, in a statement.

"It is time to speak up for all those who cannot, so they can see that they are not alone in suffering, that we are fighting for their freedoms and for our own and that LGBT human rights are inalienable," she added.

The organisers warned in their manifesto for this year's event against the threat of discrimination posed by far-right groups which have gained strength in some European countries.

They added that spending cuts imposed in Spain by the conservative Popular Party during the recent economic crisis had increased discrimination in access to public services such as healthcare.

Spain emerged in the late 1970s from several decades of social conservatism under the dictator Francisco Franco, into an era of liberal reforms.

In 2005 it became the third country in the European Union to legalise gay marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium. Several other countries around the world have followed.

For more stories about Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
Queen Letizia showing off her new bob at the Woman Awards in Madrid. Photo: Royal Palace/Twitter

Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do

Spain's Queen Letizia has shunned her classic style for a new modern twist, showing off her new blunt bob at an awards ceremony in Madrid. READ  

British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown

British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown

Brits living in Spain could find themselves falling victim to a clampdown on expats using the UK's National Health Service. READ  

Spanish tourists killed in Dom Republic air crash
Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic. Photo: Michael Gerard Burns/Wikimedia

Spanish tourists killed in Dom Republic air crash

Six tourists including two from Spain and their local pilot were killed on Monday when their small plane crashed into a golf course after takeoff from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, authorities said. READ  

Bomb explodes outside Spain's embassy in Libya
Rival militias fighting around Tripoli in August 2014. Photo: Mahmud Turkia / AFP

Bomb explodes outside Spain's embassy in Libya

A bomb exploded outside Spain's embassy in the Libyan capital on Monday night without causing injuries, a security source told AFP, an attack later claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. READ  

Barcelona school attack
Student kills teacher with crossbow in Barcelona
Police officers stand guard outside Joan Fuster secondary school in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Student kills teacher with crossbow in Barcelona

UPDATED: Police have detained a 13-year-old after a teacher was shot dead with a crossbow and several others injured in a Barcelona secondary school. READ  

Barcelona school attack
What we know about the crossbow killer
Emergency service members outside Joan Fuster school, Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

What we know about the crossbow killer

A 13-year-old secondary school pupil armed with a crossbow and machete killed a teacher and injured four others on Monday in Barcelona in the first ever such incident in Spain. READ  

My Spanish Career
'If the surf's up I head straight to the beach'
Morgan Howie surfing at El Sardinero (La Concha) Santander

'If the surf's up I head straight to the beach'

In the latest installment of My Spanish Career, The Local talks to Morgan Howie, an American surf enthusiast and graphic designer who traded land-locked Columbus, Ohio for windswept Cantabria. READ  

Yanis Varoufakis: 'I am a reluctant politician'
Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, dislikes his popularity. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP

Yanis Varoufakis: 'I am a reluctant politician'

While Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has established quite a fanbase since taking up the post, he has revealed that the personality cult surrounding him "is unpleasant" in an interview on Spanish television. READ  

Nobel writer Vargas Llosa backs Islam critic
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. Photo: Anne Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Nobel writer Vargas Llosa backs Islam critic

Nobel-winning writer Mario Vargas Llosa on Sunday praised Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a women's rights advocate and leading critic of Islam, calling her "one of the most valuable" adversaries of "Islamic fanatics". READ  

Migrant boat tragedy
Rajoy urges EU to take action after latest tragedy
A boat tarnsporting migrants arrives at port of Messini, Sicily after a rescue operation April 18th. Photo:Giovanni Isolino / AFP

Rajoy urges EU to take action after latest tragedy

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Sunday urged the EU to do more to prevent further loss of life at sea after 700 migrants were feared drowned in a shipwreck in the Mediterranean. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
National
Eight cool things the crisis did for Spain
Travel
Top Ten: Spain's best beaches for 2015
National
Euro property bargains up for grabs in Spain
What's On
Spain's craziest carnivals
National
Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
International
Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
What's On
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Property
House sales up for first year since crisis began
Gallery
The highs and lows of the Spanish property market
National
The five strangest things about Spaniards
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Society
Bizarre Spanish fashions you shouldn't try at home
National
Spanish jobseekers fail exam with answers
National
Moving to Spain: a guide for beginners
International
Spain among Europe's cheapest nations: study
Features
Top ten surprising Spanish inventions
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,277
jobs available