Couples wed on boat during Amsterdam gay pride

2nd August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Five gay Dutch-American couples tied the knot aboard a boat Saturday during Amsterdam's gay pride festival

Amsterdam - Five gay Dutch-American couples tied the knot aboard a boat Saturday during Amsterdam's gay pride festival, as thousands of revellers took to waterborne floats on the city's historic canals.

Organisers said around 560,000 people turned out for the celebrations in the capital of the Netherlands, the first country to legalise gay marriage in April 2001.

Applause rang out from a huge crowd of spectators as the couples were married on one of the 80 boats transformed into parade floats for the celebrations.

Some of the newlyweds had travelled from New York, where gay marriage is not legal, to the Netherlands in order to say their wedding vows.

"Unfortunately, we have had to come all the way to Amsterdam to be able to get married legally," lamented 25-year-old Patrick Decker.

"The United States is the land of freedom, but homosexuals are still not free to get married," added another one of the newlyweds, 40-year-old Hans Heijnis from the Netherlands.

Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen, who officiated at the marriages, said the public ceremony was aimed at reminding people that "it is important for gay marriage to exist everywhere".

Members of the country's armed forces were also allowed to parade in uniform during Amsterdam's gay pride for the first time this year.

Military chiefs gave them permission "on condition they wore the correct dress".

Police officers were also strutting their stuff aboard one of the canal boats alongside scantily clad partygoers as deafening music blasted out.

Olympic champions and footballers joined the celebrations to get the message across that homosexuality and sport can go together, said Frank van Dalen, one of the organisers of the parade.

Meanwhile, a gay pride march was under way Saturday in the Swedish capital Stockholm, thought to be the largest such celebration in northern Europe.

Celebrities, pop stars and sportsmen hit the streets of the Nordic country known for its liberal attitudes.

AFP / Expatica

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