Sao Paulo's LGBTQ parade calls for Brazilians to 'vote with pride'

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Several hundred thousand people marched Sunday in Sao Paulo's annual LGBTQ Pride parade under the slogan "vote with pride, for policies that represent us" -- a reference to Brazil's upcoming presidential election.

The October vote will pit far-right President Jair Bolsonaro against former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is leading the polls.

Back in-person for the first time in two years due to Covid, the 26th edition of the Pride parade brought a day full of color, music and messages to "fight against any kind of discrimination" and "respect for diversity" in Brazil's most populous city.

The parade "shows society that we are present, that we are a sufficient number to make a difference in politics and in society itself," Gleydson Santos, a 26-year-old nursing technician, told AFP.

"The theme of this year's parade was really good," said Braulio da Silva, a 31-year-old primary school teacher, adding "You can't be silent, you can't be submissive anymore. It's time we slapped ourselves in the face," he added.

The massive march started in the morning on Paulista Avenue, the city's main artery, and advanced into the afternoon towards Roosevelt Square, the route's endpoint.

Turnout appeared to be lower than the three million people organizers said they were expecting.

One of the main attractions of the day was popular Brazilian artist Pabllo Vittar. The drag queen, dressed in yellow and white boots, got the crowd grooving.

There was also no lack of criticism for the incumbent president, with shouts and signs of "Fora Bolsonaro" ("Out with Bolsonaro").

In Brazil, homophobia has been a crime since mid-2019, but there are still daily attacks against gay and transgender people.

In 2021, 140 trans people were murdered in the country, according to the National Association of Transvestites and Transsexuals of Brazil.

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