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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 28
One million celebrate Madrid Pride - Eurovision star Conchita Wurst kicks off events
Section One
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One million celebrate Madrid Pride - Eurovision star Conchita Wurst kicks off events

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Madrid hosted Europe's largest Pride celebration with five days of events culminating in a July 6 parade with one million participants. Madrid police said nearly 500 officers were detailed for security, but unlike some other countries' Pride celebrations, Spain's events were entirely peaceful.

According to Agence France Press (AFP), 'vast crowds of revelers in high heels, wigs and figure-hugging dresses cavorted in the streets of Madrid.... Hundreds of thousands crammed the Spanish capital's broad central avenues to the din of drums and whistles as rainbow-colored flags fluttered in the sunshine.'

Eurovision star Conchita Wurst kicked off the celebrations with an open-air concert on July 2. She performed again on July 4 at the Vicente Calderon soccer stadium.

July 3 was devoted to the most popular event of the annual Pride festivities - men in drag raced in high heels through Madrid's Gay neighborhood, Chueca, cheered on by crowds.

Pride organizers dedicated this year's march to victims of discrimination in countries where LGBT people are punished, sometimes with death.

'We are organizing one of the best Pride events in the world,' Pride organizer Boti G. Rodrigo said 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.

In their manifesto for this year's Pride celebration, organizers warned against the threat posed by far-right groups which have gained strength in some European countries. They added that spending cuts imposed by the right-wing Popular Party during Spain's ongoing economic crisis had increased discrimination in healthcare and other public services.

The recently abdicated King Juan Carlos took the Spanish throne after the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and reigned over an era of liberal reforms that would have horrified his predecessor.

In 2005 Spain became the third country in the European Union to legalize same-sex marriage, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

A large majority of Spaniards (69%) still identify as Roman Catholics, but the church's popularity suffered because of its close association with the Franco regime, and today 26% of the country's people say they have no religion.

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