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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Thousands party at Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
Extravagant outfits were the order of the day at Coopers Field
The plight of gay people who face persecution over their sexuality was highlighted at Cardiff's Mardi Gras festival.

Thousands attended the event, which is the second biggest of its kind in the UK.

It was the fifth year the lesbian and gay event has been held and organisers said they had anticipated a crowd of 40,000.

It was one of the most colourful festivals to hit the city as many turned up in fancy dress.

But the event was also used by Amnesty International campaigners to highlight the issue of many countries around the world with laws forbidding same sex relationships.

The activists drew attention to the situation of gay men in Egypt who, they say, face arrest, prosecution, torture and imprisonment for their sexuality.

Eleanor White, programme director of Amnesty, said that that more than 70 countries around the world criminalises homosexuality.

"It is not just gay men, it is lesbians, gay men, and people who are bisexual," she said.

People here have experienced discrimination and you can make that connection with other people in the world
Eleanor White, Amnesty International

"In countries like Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Ecuador - just to name a few, there are huge problems in criminalising homosexuality and also in state sponsored hate crime which is torture, beatings, stoning and sometimes killing people, simply because of who they are," she said.

Ms White said they hoped by highlighting the issue at Cardiff's Mardi Gras, they could bring international pressure on the countries who outlaw homosexuality.

"We know that international pressure works on these governments and we know that lesbian, gay, transsexual people want to make a difference and they do feel a sense of solidarity.

"People here have experienced discrimination and you can make that connection with other people in the world," she added.

The Mardi Gras, was held at Coopers Field in the city centre.

Mardi Gras
About 40,000 people were expected to attend the event

Haydn Price, marketing officer for the event said the day was a success.

"It is a massive event - it is the second largest event of its kind in the country," he said.

"And this year's was the best yet - we haven't had a chance to count up the numbers yet, but we know that we had more people than last year.

"It was a tremendous day and everyone enjoyed it.

"It was a bit slow to start off but it soon picked up and although we did have a shower in the afternoon, it didn't dampen things too much.

"We are looking forward to next year's event now," he added.

Mardi Gras lights up city
01 Sep 01  |  Wales

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