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Sao Paulo celebrates LGBT pride as activists call for laws against discrimination

Sunday, May 4, 2014
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Participants carry a rainbow flag as thousands march during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, May 4, 2014.AP

Participants carry a rainbow flag as thousands march during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, May 4, 2014.

SAO PAULO — Gay rights advocates called for a Brazilian law against discrimination as they gathered by the hundreds of thousands in Sao Paulo on Sunday for one of the world’s largest gay pride parades.

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The city blocked its main central avenue to allow room for colorful floats and exuberant crowds of people dressed as drag queens with stilettos and wigs, the Statue of Liberty, flamenco and cabaret dancers.

“As long as there is this prejudice, we are going to be in the streets,” said actor Valder Bastos, who is well known as drag queen Tchaka. “We are fighting against different types of prejudice: racism, homophobia. We are here together to show there are plenty of us.”

Sao Paulo Gov. Geraldo Alckmin announced that he would restore a historic house in Avenida Paulista, where the parade strolls, and turn it into a gay museum.

The activists and parade organizers said a law that would ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is overdue in Brazil. Criminalizing displays of discrimination against gays would reduce violence against members of the LGBT community, advocates said.

Last year, President Dilma Rouseff launched an effort to set up centers that would promote and defend LGBT rights, and she reminded people on Sunday about a hotline they can use to report hate crimes, according to a message published on her Twitter account.

Activists at the parade said they also want to see Brazil pass a gender identity law like that in neighboring Argentina, where people can legally change their gender without needing a surgery or a judge’s approval.

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