Berlin: Decked in colourful costumes, vibrant masks, holding hands, hugging and kissing each other, members of the gay community along with thousands of other people marched in the city to celebrate and demonstrate their rights. Celebrated as Christopher Street Day (CSD), it is an annual memorial day for homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender across the globe seeking equal rights.

The parade this year saw 44 vibrant and richly decorated floats and nine marching contingents as participants wearing rainbow coloured masks, costumes, feathers, shades, danced for hours to enjoy the annual festival.   

The entire route of the parade saw a sea of people as thousands of them, both young and old, came out to support the community. Many were holding balloons, flags and placards reading 'equal rights for gays' and 'Proud to be gay'. 

On both sides of the entire parade route, drinks and eatables were being sold while participants having a special Berlin Pride Card were enjoying free drinks.

Coinciding with the women's football World Cup starting June 26 here, the theme for this year's parade is 'sport' while the motto is 'Fairplay for diversity'.

The CSD celebrations in Berlin start at least a week before with Gay-Lesbian Street Fair.

Civil courage awards are also given to the community members who have done something exceptional to fight for the rights of LGBT, an acronym for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender.

It was fun and party time for thousands of spectators in the city as they danced, sang and enjoyed with their friends and family members.

'I have been attending the gay parade from last several years and it has always been fun. Moreover, we all should support the community as they are normal people with different sexual preferences and they have a right to live happily,' said 21-year-old Stella Eheminger, sporting a rainbow mask and black feather wings. 

There are several tourists who have come to Berlin during last week of June especially to attend the CSD and for most of them from developing nations it was something never seen before.

'I cannot even think something like this happening in my country as our society is strictly against it. Here you can see men locking lips with men and women holding and hugging their female partners. It's really an eye opener and countries in this part of the world are so open about it,' said Babur Hodjaev, a tourist from Uzbekistan.  

Germany is touted as a heaven for queers with rainbow flags flying proudly in Berlin, which is helmed by Germany's first openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit. The city also has a gay museum for people to learn about the community's history.

The city doled out discounts and special offers for people attending the CSD.

German airline Lufthansa offered special prices to all attendees of CSD while Air France and budget airlines like Germanwings also offered discounted airfares.

To make the stay of people attending the parade comfortable, special offers are being made for apartments and hotels in Berlin.

The CSD is held in memory of the first big uprising of LGBT people against police assaults that took place in New York's Christopher Street in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969. Since then, every year on the last weekend of June, CSD is celebrated across the world.



(Agencies)