Thousands Attend Gay Pride Parade in Rome

Posted June 11th, 2011 at 4:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of thousands of people paraded through Italy's capital Saturday celebrating the annual European gay pride festival, with many participants urging Italy's government to put forth legislation recognizing gay rights.

Police estimate that at least 300,000 people, with many carrying slogans calling for an end to discrimination, participated in the Europride event, which is held every year in a different European city.

The colorful parade closed this year with an evening performance by Lady Gaga. The Italian-American singer, a vocal advocate for gay rights, sang her hit single “Born This Way,” at Rome's Circus Maximus, a grassy area that was used frequently by the ancient Romans for events.

Having Italy as the host of this year's parade is especially significant, as it is one of the few European countries with no specific laws for gay civil unions or against homophobic violence.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is on trial in Milan for a sex scandal involving a 17-year-old prostitute, sparked outrage from gay rights groups last year when he commented that it was, as he put it, “better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay.” Mr. Berlusconi later said he had just been joking and had not meant to offend anyone.