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Helsinki Pride march draws crowds of 30K – No disturbances

Helsinki Pride week culminated in an annual LGBTIQ parade in the capital on Saturday. Conditions were sunny and the atmosphere was festive, with police estimating that up to 30,000 participants took part.

Sateenkaarilippuja Senaatintorilla.
LGBTQIA+ rights gather thousands of Finns to demonstrate in the streets every year. Image: Ella Mikkola / Yle

Helsinki's Senate Square was once again flush with colour on Saturday afternoon, as thousands gathered to celebrate sexual minority rights and gender equality for the annual Helsinki Pride March.

"The atmosphere is raucous and open, very jolly. There are so many people here!" Yle reporter Timo Keränen said shortly before the Pride parade started on its march at 1 pm.

Keränen says that a vast number of people had also arrived as spectators, more than participants, though not a single counter-protester was spotted. In 2010, three men attacked marchers with tear gas and pepper spray.

One of the vibrantly dressed marchers, who gave his name as Jameson, was at the gathering for the first time and said that social pressures on sexual minorities have both eased up and gotten worse in different respects.

"The marriage act is a good thing, but we've also seen open aggression. It's less reprehensible to be openly bigoted," Jameson said.

At 2 pm police estimate that there were some 25-30,000 participants in the Helsinki Pride March.

"Everything has gone smoothly," said Jorma Makkonen from the Helsinki police department.

The Pride parade started its walk to the Citizens' Square from the Senate Square at 1 pm, and the programme at their destination began with music and speeches at 2 pm.

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