150,000 people march for LGBTQ rights in Berlin

BERLIN (AP) — Draped in rainbow flags and touting signs, around 150,000 people marched for LGBTQ rights Saturday at Berlin’s annual Christopher Street Day celebration, celebrating this year’s parade theme “United in Love.”

Berlin police gave the crowd estimate Saturday afternoon but said the number may still grow into the evening.

Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s deputy mayor and a senator for culture and Europe, said in a speech opening the celebrations that Berlin must be a “safe haven” for LGBTQ individuals facing persecution in their home countries.

“For all the countries where being queer is still a punishable offense … Berlin must be a city of freedom,” he said.

German political institutions showed their support for the LGBTQ community. In a historic first, both the German Bundestag and the chancellery flew rainbow flags to mark the occasion.

Saturday’s parade was the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic that the annual celebration had proceeded without major restrictions.

Last year, around 65,000 people attended the parade amid social distancing rules and a ban on alcohol. In 2020, the parade was canceled entirely due to the pandemic.

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