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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Sao Paulo holds Gay Pride parade
The Gay Pride march in Sao Paulo, Brazil
The crowd was in party mood as it progressed through the city

Hundreds of thousands of gay, lesbian, transgendered and transvestite people have taken part in a Gay Pride parade in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

Organisers said the number of people taking part had exceeded last year's record of 2.5 million marchers.

The parade is said to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Costumes, floats and music dominated but activists say they also have a serious message, calling for a world without discrimination.

"We want to address machismo, racism and homophobia [...] which still exists in Brazil," said the president of the parade, Nelson Matias Pereira.

Changing attitudes

According to activists, between 1980 and 2006 some 2,680 gay people were murdered in Brazil, the majority thought to have been killed because of their sexuality.

The parade received official backing for the first time and was attended by Brazil's ministers for tourism and sport as well as local officials.

The city's first parade, staged in 1997, attracted just 2,000 people.

Gay Pride is taking place just days after around one million Evangelical Christians held their annual demonstration in Sao Paulo, during which one minister addressing the crowd linked homosexuality with Satanism.

With more than 70 Gay Pride parades taking place around the country, there are some signs of changing attitudes, our correspondent says, with a few states publicly expressing opposition to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

However, civil unions between same sex couples are only recognised in one state in the south of Brazil and change on this issue remains a key demand of gay rights activists.

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