Swedish premier marches in Stockholm gay pride parade

Thousands of people, including Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, marched in Stockholm's annual gay pride parade on Saturday, refusing to let a sudden downpour dampen their spirits.

"It's two hours of joy and love, and closeness," Lofven told broadcaster TV4.

Lofven became the second Swedish premier to march in the event that organizers said drew more than 40,000 participants, making it the largest in Scandinavia.

Several cabinet members also took part, as did members of the opposition, including conservative Moderate Party leader Anna Kinberg Batra and Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch Thor.

The lawmakers said their participation showed support for equal rights and sent a message that everyone should feel secure.

A dozen men who tried to unfurl a banner protesting the parade got into a scuffle with some marchers, but police said they quickly restored order.

People cheered and applauded as floats passed by along the 4.3-kilometre route, many equipped with massive loudspeaker systems blaring out hit songs while drag queens and other participants in fancy dress - or virtually no clothes at all - danced and waved.

Some sections had a more serious tone. Members of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights (RFSL) walked with duct tape over their mouths and carried banners with the words: "Marching for those who can't."

Other sections highlighted recent changes in Swedish law that make it more difficult to seek asylum. The measures - introduced after last year's massive influx of asylum seekers - also affect gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, critics argue.

Last update: Sat, 30/07/2016 - 18:57
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