Gay activists recreated a Berlin Wall checkpoint in the city today – as CSD gay pride marchers protested the homophobic ‘propaganda’ laws in Russia.
Around 750,000 people danced to the beat of LGBT rights in Germany’s capital this afternoon (23 June).
They were led by the official Christopher Street Day parade float, sponsored by airline Lufthansa’s two-storey float, and featuring hunky air stewards with their uniforms painstakingly painted on to their toned bodies with spray paint.
This was followed by about 50 floats, one of which was dedicated to a protest against anti-gay laws which have been introduced in several Russian and former Soviet states, most famously St Petersburg.
Berlin has been in the forefront of protests against the Russian legislation that bans the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality and activists fear will silence any debate on lesbian, gay, bi and trans issues.
Near the Russian embassy, on Unter Den Linden, the march stopped to hear speeches by Russian activists.
One said: ‘They think the rainbow flag can make someone gay. We laugh at them. We laugh at Putin. That’s why we are here.
‘We are together with all of you from different countries. Thank you for your support. I hope one day we will have the same pride in Russia and thousands of gays and lesbians will celebrate together.’
A few meters away, a Checkpoint Charlie-style sign has been erected warning pride-goers that they were ‘entering the Russian sector’ where ‘homo propaganda’ and ‘free speech’ were banned.
Activists fired rainbow color ticker-tape and silver glitter over marchers as they passed the sign.
The parade floats were packed with revelers, dancing and celebrating, enjoying the sunshine.
But as the parade passed the Jewish and gay holocaust memorials, the sound systems were silenced and the partygoers fell silent in respect and remembrance.
And amid the partying, Robert Thewessen, one of the parade organizers had a serious message to share with Gay Star News readers.
‘The message we always want to give is that it is good to be diverse because every person has individual talents,’ he told us.
‘But unfortunately this diversity is not being acknowledged and we would be so much better if it was.’
He explained that CSD this year was also paying tribute to gay British scientist Alan Turing whose centenary is being marked today and had the theme that knowledge and science made the world a better place.
Thewessen added: ‘The main thing is to show the community that we are here and we contribute to society just as much as all the others so isn’t it fair to have the same equal rights as everyone else?’
The party will now continue late into the night at the iconic Brandenburg Gate and at clubs across the city.
The main stage at the finale will be scene of a political rally, the presentation of the Civil Courage Awards for human rights activism and an event to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and remember those who have been lost to the disease in the past.
See our photo gallery here: