Around 5,000 gays and lesbians from all over Switzerland staged a colourful and vocal march through the parliament square in Berne as part of Pride 2000. They were demanding that foreign partners of Swiss gays and lesbians be granted residence rights.This content was published on July 8, 2000 - 18:53
Unlike heterosexual couples who are considered "bi-national" and may marry to obtain permits, gay and lesbian couples in the same situation do not have residence rights to enable them to live together in Switzerland. It means that couples who have been togther for many years have no choice but to stay apart.
The day's events, which are being held under the theme of "love without borders," also included a musical parade through the old town of Berne, and an open-air party. The old town was decorated with rainbow flags, representing the international symbol of the gay and lesbian movement for sexual equality.
Keynote speakers in the parliament square included the Social Democrat politician, Christiane Brunner, who is bidding to become party leader, and the Social Democrat mayor of Berne, Klaus Baumgartner.
Addressing the crowds, Brunner said lesbians throughout history had been a significant driving force for female emancipation. She also criticised the women's movement for often discriminating against lesbians. In calling for equal rights for all regardless of sexuality, she said Switzerland would be moving towards a more free and just society.
In previous years, Pride events have taken place in Geneva, Fribourg and Lausanne. Other European cities have also held events under the banner of Pride 2000, a movement celebrating the freedom to express sexuality for gays and lesbians, which stages a day of celebration and demonstrations annually.
swissinfo with agencies
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