The Pride Parade in Zurich brought several thousands of people to the city’s streets on Saturday to honour the L.G.B.T.I.Q rights movement and campaign against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The movement celebrated two anniversaries: This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the New York City protest that many consider the foundation of the modern rights movement. Saturday’s event was also the 25th anniversary of such a parade in Zurich.
What started as a gathering of about 1,000 people in 1994, has turned into a widely popular event. This year, organisers estimated that 31,000 joined the march (around 10,000 more than last year) on Saturday and 55,000 people attended the festival over two days.
It has also been wholeheartedly embraced by the city government. To mark the occasion, organisers and the city government moved the festival to a more prominent location this year near the Zurich lake. They repainted some pedestrian crossings and road signs in rainbow colours and projected the colours on the city’s Opera house. The Quaibrücke, a key bridge over the river Limmat was renamed Gaybrücke (“gay bridge”) for the day.
Organizers expected this year’s parade to be the largest so far.
Mission not accomplished
But not all is well in Switzerland. The country, which decriminalised homosexuality in the 1940s, currently ranks 27th among 49 European countries in the ILGA-Europe country ranking on L.G.T.B.I.Q. rights. It allows registered partnerships since 2007 but does not allow same-sex marriage.
Organisers spoke in interviews to local media about their concerns over continued physical and verbal attacks against queer people in Switzerland.
“Some people are overwhelmed by the fact that society is opening up,” co-organiser Anne-Sophie Morand told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “Sometimes I can sense a fear of the unknown.”
There is also a debate about so-called “pinkwashing” by companies. Activists accuse companies that embrace the movement’s message of inclusiveness to attract topnotch talent, but don’t actually take steps to curb discrimination in the workplace.
Organisers said that they coordinated their events with the women’s strike on Friday. Participants of that strike and related protests, called by some the largest demonstration in Swiss modern history, demanded equal pay and treatment of women in Swiss workplaces and wider society.
swissinfo.ch/pb & ac