Manchester Pride: Thousands march in annual parade

The parade is part of the Pride Big Weekend, held every year

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Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Manchester for the annual Pride parade.

More than 100 floats made their way through the city centre, setting off from Deansgate at 13:00 BST.

They travelled through the city and finished on Whitworth Street, just outside the gay village.

The parade is part of the Pride Big Weekend, the festival held each year to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) life.

Events started on Friday and run until Monday.

This year's parade theme is "Queer'd Science" in honour of computer pioneer Alan Turing.

The gay codebreaker was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, when homosexual acts were illegal in the UK.

He died from cyanide poisoning two years later and it was ruled at his inquest that he had committed suicide.

'State persecution'

Manchester City Council is urging people at Pride to send messages of solidarity to gay people in its twin city of St Petersburg, Russia.

It comes after the local government of St Petersburg introduced tough laws banning the "promotion" of homosexuality.

The law makes any public information, rallies, marches or displays of homosexuality illegal.

Manchester Pride 2012 The festival kicked off on Friday and closes on Monday

Bev Craig, Manchester City Council's lead member for lesbian issues, said: "It's hard to believe that in this day and age that people still suffer state persecution simply because of their sexuality.

"But, sadly, that is true in many parts of the world, including our sister city of St Petersburg.

"This is a great chance to send a clear message to gay people in St Petersburg that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their fight for equality.

"It would be amazing if we could send thousands of messages of support to our friends in St Petersburg so I would ask people to please send a text. It will only take a minute, but it will mean so much."

People who want to show support are being asked to send a text starting with the word Pride to 86099.

Manchester's Pride festival began in 1990 as a collection of bring-and-buy stalls outside a pub.

As well as the parade, the festival now includes a weekend of live music, including this year from Steps, Amelia Lily and Alison Moyet, and a candlelit vigil to remember those who have died after contracting HIV, or are living with the condition.

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