Gay Pride events branch out to new territory
Gay Parade parades -- old and new -- take place in Europe
Thousands of people across Europe took party in Gay Pride events over the weekend, with some countries in Eastern Europe seeing gatherings of gays and lesbians for the first time.
At least 20 people were injured when the Czech Republic's first ever Gay Pride parade was attacked by rightwing extremists armed with tear gas even before the event was due to begin in the city of Brno.
Three people were arrested when counter-demonstrators threw fireworks at the gathering of lesbians and gays in which an estimated 500 were to participate.
With calls in the internet for resistance to the "queer parade," more than 200 police were present during the planned event.
Local news media reported the presence of 150 aggressive counter-demonstrators and hundreds of onlookers.
Among the supporters of the parade were Czech Minister of Human Rights and Minorities Dzamila Stehlikova and tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
Czech same-sex unions have enjoyed official recognition since 2006.
Bulgarian police arrested 60 skinheads who tried to disrupt that country's first Gay Pride parade Saturday, the Interior Ministry said.
A large police presence in the capital Sofia separated the several dozen parade participants from opponents from nationalists groups who threw firecrackers.
The Bulgarian National Union has been allowed to gather signatures for a petition against "homosexuality and child abuse" at the same time as the parade.
The parade, organized by the Bulgarian Gay and Lesbian group Gemini, was also been criticized by the country's Christian Orthodox Church and by Muslim representatives.
The venue was relocated twice within 24 hours on grounds of safety and morality and is now to take place on the Bridge of Love near the Cultural Palace in the centre of the capital.
In Germany, tens of thousands of gays and lesbians defied rain to join the 30th annual Gay Pride Parade through the streets of Berlin Saturday.
The exotically clad procession, many waving rainbow flags, started for the first time in former East Berlin before making its way along the boulevard Unter den Linden to the Victory column in the west of the city.
Gay activist Detlef Muecke said this year's parade -- known in Germany as the Christopher Street Day parade -- was dedicated to highlighting continuing daily violence directed at gays and lesbians.
He recalled how he had taken part in similar processions in the 1970s, his face covered for fear of being targeted.
Earlier political leaders along with gay and lesbian representatives paid tribute to the many victims of Nazi persecution of homosexuals between 1933 and 1945 at a memorial unveiled in May.
Among the participants was 95-year-old Rudolf Brazda, who survived incarceration in Buchenwald concentration camp from 1941 to 1945.
"It was a terrible time," Brazda said. Asked how he felt now, he responded: "I must say that I feel as though I were in paradise in this democratic society."
German actress Maren Kroymann placed a rose at the memorial to the tens of thousands of gays and lesbians who were persecuted and killed in Nazi Germany.
Wolfgang Thierse, a deputy president of the lower house of the German parliament, joined the ceremony.
In Paris, more than half a million people took part in a Gay Pride parade under the motto "for a school without any discrimination," dedicated to the fight against racism, sexism and xenophobia among young people.
Among the prominent participants in the parade were Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe and former culture minister Jack Lang, both members of the Socialist Party.
The conservative governing party UMP and the centrist MoDem were also represented. The event as usual is to end with a dance at the Paris' iconic Place de la Bastille.
Gay Pride parades across the world recall events on June 28, 1969, when New York gays stood up to arbitrary police intimidation.