Hundreds of thousands shine bright at Vancouver Pride Parade

More than 500,000 people showed their pride Sunday in Vancouver at the 35th annual Pride Parade.

The colourful parade started at Robson and Bute streets at noon and travelled west along Robson Street to Denman Street, south to Beach Avenue, and east to Jervis Street.

The parade is expected to be clear by 5 p.m. and Robson and Denman streets will be re-opened by the Vancouver police once the street cleaners have been through.

Traffic delays are expected and motorists are being advised to use alternate routes.

The event, organized by the Vancouver Pride Society, aims to bring together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community – along with friends and supporters – to celebrate equality and inclusivity.

Global BC showed their pride today with a special float, one of around 150 that took part in the parade.

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Two Canadian Olympic athletes represented their team at the Pride Parade amid controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-gay laws leading up to the Sochi Olympic Games.

The new laws allow police officers to arrest and detain tourists and foreign nationals suspected of being gay and outlaw the so-called gay propaganda.

“Today, as our Canadian Olympic athletes march in Vancouver Pride 2013, we are reminded that sport is a human right and that everyone – regardless of race, religion, creed or sexual orientation – has the right to participate free of discrimination,” said president of the Canadian Olympic Committee Marcel Aubut.

Alpine skiing Olympian Mike Janyk and Olympic snowboarder Mercedes Nicoll said they were proud to participate in the parade.

“The world is a tough place and sport is definitely one of the things that makes it so much better. As Olympians, we have the opportunity to share some important values with people in our communities, our country and across the world. That’s why I’m here marching today,” Nicoll said.

Some athletes have called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Games in Russia, while others, including Vancouver bars and restaurants, have stopped serving Russian vodka in protest.

Gay activists also gathered  at the Russian Consulate in Vancouver Friday to stage a “kiss-in” to protest the laws.

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The Vancouver Pride Parade route. Vancouver Pride Society

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