Amsterdam celebrates Gay Pride with boat parade
Jews wearing pink kippahs, scantily-clad Africans and grey-haired seniors joined a riotous Gay Pride parade on the canals of Amsterdam Saturday, in the land that first legalised gay marriage.
An estimated 500,000 people partied along the Dutch city's historic canals despite heavy rain, with 80 themed boats adding to the colour and pumping out music.
"We want to celebrate the fact that this is the 15th year we have organised Gay Pride in Amsterdam," said Philip Tijsma, a spokesman for the gay rights group COC.
One of the boats featured dancing African warriors, part of the efforts by organisers to draw attention to the plight of homosexuals in countries where it remains illegal.
"In Sudan, you can be beheaded if you are gay. In Malawi, you can be jailed for 15 years," said Toni La Tegola, from a federation supporting gay young people in Africa.
In another boat, mentally handicapped people wearing the colours of the rainbow joined in the party.
"Sexuality is a sensitive issue for the mentally handicapped, and if they are homosexual, it is even more sensitive," said Tijsma.
There are around one million homosexuals in the Netherlands, and in 2001 it became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.
© 2010 AFP