Massive Sao Paulo Pride March To Show Support In Allowing Brazilians To Claim Gender Identity

Organizers of the massive 20th annual Gay Pride parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said 2 million people were expected to attend the event on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to celebrate with dancing and dressing up for the parade. Twenty million people reside in the city.

The parade in Sao Paulo is one of the world’s biggest gay pride parades anywhere in the world. According to the Bangkok Post, the first Gay Pride parade in Sao Paulo took place in 1996, and only 2,000 people attended; however, the event has become a huge draw for tourists.

The goal behind this year’s parade is to show support of proposed federal legislation that would allow Brazilians to legally claim their gender identity “which may or may not correspond to their gender at birth.” If the legislation is approved, government health care providers would be required to pay for sex-change operations.

One participant spoke about the important reasons behind the parade — to ask for respect and to fight for equal rights for the LGBT community.

“For some people, this is a Carnival out of season — to have fun, mess up and do some wrong things. In my case and for many others, we came for a cause — asking for respect, to fight for our rights, for people to treat the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community better. We are human beings, just like any others.”

Another participant, 27-year-old Viviany Beleboni, an LGBT rights activist, said she planned to march with a Bible to protest evangelical groups who have blocked pro-LGBT legislation.

With the Zika virus, the president’s impeachment, and increasing pressure to postpone this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is under a lot of strain at this time, the Voice of America reports. The Gay Pride parade in Sao Paulo was a chance for celebration and solidarity.

The LGBT community began gathering in Sao Paulo at 10 a.m. local time on the Avenida Paulista, according to the Bangkok Times. Over 1,000 police were expected to be at the pride parade. Protests were planned against the acting president of Brazil, Michel Temer, who is the replacement for Dilma Rousseff while her impeachment trial proceeds.

Fox News Latino reports singers, dancers and DJs entertained the Sao Paulo crowds. This year’s slogan for the parade was “Gender Identity Law now! – Everyone together against trans-phobia.”

Brazil has made great strides towards equality for the LGBT community, when, in 2011, the Supreme Court recognized the unions of homosexual couples and guaranteed the couples the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples.

Brazil also has a long way to go, however. There is a growing number of crimes being committed against transsexual individuals. Eight hundred and two transsexuals have died violently in the country over the last eight years, which is a large number worldwide for murders of transsexuals. Mexico is second to Brazil with the killing of 229 transsexuals, according to numbers compiled by Transgender Europe.

What do you think of the massive growth over the years of the Sao Paulo Gay Pride parade?

[Photo by Andre Penner/AP]