HONG KONG (AFP) - Thousands of people marched through Hong Kong for the city's gay pride parade on Saturday, some of them wrapped in rainbow flags or dressed in drag.
The mood was festive despite the rain as the colourful procession made its way through the southern Chinese city, with some 3,000 people taking part, an AFP reporter said. Organisers put the numbers for the sixth annual march considerably higher at around 9,000.
"Each year more and more people are coming out. They're trying to provide the message that there's nothing inherently wrong with being gay - it's just two people in love with one another," Alison Yung, a 32-year-old marketing director, told AFP.
"There's still a lot of work needed to be put into getting people to be more tolerant (of the gay community)," Yung said.
But other participants said awareness of gay rights was growing in Hong Kong.
"You can see the young people, even though a lot of them are not gay, they come to support us," said a man who gave his name as Frank and was dressed in an elaborate Marie Antoinette costume.
A Hong Kong tycoon drew worldwide attention two years ago when he offered HK$500 million (S$82 million) to any man that could convince his openly gay daughter to marry him, attracting 20,000 candidates.
Flamboyant property developer Cecil Chao subsequently doubled the "marriage bounty" to $130 million. But he withdrew it in January after his daughter Gigi wrote a heartfelt open letter imploring him to accept her sexuality.
Saturday's march took gay rights supporters past Hong Kong's central government offices, where pro-democracy protesters have been camped out for a month seeking free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous city.