Madrid, July 6 (AP/UNB) — European cities celebrated LGBTQ pride on Saturday with colorful parades that also became platforms for political demands and a push back against far-right populist parties.
This year's events in London, Madrid and Budapest mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in New York against police persecution, a turning point in the modern gay rights movement.
The Spanish capital's pride has become one of the largest in the world.
On Saturday, tens of thousands took to the streets in a joyful march that celebrated sexual and gender diversity. Some called for better care for elder LGBTQ people and a nation-wide law that, among other long-running demands, would standardize rights for transgender people across the country.
"Elders without closets," read a street-long white banner carried by protesters marching along Madrid's main artery. Members of the first generation of Spanish gay rights activists were at the front, followed by the colorful parade of floats.
Arny Carrasco, a 67-year-old man from a small town, said he had missed few pride celebrations for the past two decades, but that Saturday's felt "special" for its focus on the elderly.
"The gay community has shown society different ways of relating to each other and it's about time that we don't feel that we need to get back into the closet when we become older," Carrasco said, citing how nursing homes, for example, are ill-prepared to cater the needs of LGBTQ people, especially transgender men and women.
This year's pride in Madrid has also become remarkably political after the uber-conservative Vox party made significant gains in national and local elections.
Officials of the far-right party, whose votes were key in electing a new conservative mayor last month, have proposed moving next year's pride parade out of the city center, while regional leader Rocío Monasterio has said the celebrations "denigrate people's dignity" and include "explicit sexual acts in the streets."
"When a mother, a father step outside with children from their home, they don't have to be exposed to that spectacle," Monasterio told a conservative website last week.
Beatriz Gimeno, a long-time LGBTQ activist and far-left Podemos (We Can) party lawmaker, told The Associated Press that "reactionary" remarks by the far-right were a reminder of how relevant the battle for gay rights remains.
"Faced with attitudes that take us 20 or 30 years back, we need to tell them that we'll take not even one step back," Gimeno said.
In London, hundreds of thousands also poured into the streets of London for Britain's biggest pride parade. Some 30,000 participants, including uniformed police and firefighters, marched while many more lining the streets cheered and waved rainbow flags.
Organizers said they had aimed to increase the event's diversity, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hoped it would be the biggest-ever Pride parade.
Alison Camps, co-chair of Pride in London, said "it's vital that we remember that Pride is not just one day a year — we must fight for the rights of all members of our community all year round."
In the Hungarian capital, Budapest, thousands also took part in a pride parade that stressed calls for acceptance and the right to live without fear.
Warsaw, Jul 6 (AP/UNB) — Officials in southern Poland say that a woman and her two children have been killed in a gas explosion in an apartment in the city of Bytom. Four other people have been hospitalized.
A spokeswoman for local firefighters, Aneta Golebiowska, said the explosion occurred shortly after 1 p.m. local time in a ground-floor apartment in downtown Bytom. She said that three people died and four people suffered burns and injuries, including a passer-by in the street. Another 17 people have been evacuated from the building where the explosion broke windows and cracked a ceiling.
Seventeen teams of firefighters worked to put out the fire caused by the explosion.
New portal Onet.pl said the fatalities were a 39-year-old woman and her daughters, aged 5 and 7.
Warsaw, Jul 6 (AP/UNB) — Poland's international copper mining company KGHM Polska Miedz says that one miner has been killed and five injured at two separate mines in the country's southwest.
The company said Saturday that a 40-year-old operator of a mining machine was killed by falling rocks in the Polkowice-Sieroszowice copper mine. It also said that following a quake that hit nearby Rudna mine five miners suffered broken bones and bruises and were hospitalized. Both incidents happened Friday night.
The company employs around 34,000 people in its copper and silver mines in Europe and the Americas.
Brussels, Jul 5 (AP/UNB) — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is criticizing the way European Union leaders chose his successor and others for the bloc's top jobs for the next five years.
Juncker said Friday that "the process was not very transparent."
After marathon talks, EU leaders nominated Ursula von der Leyen as his successor from November. They rejected a system whereby lead candidates in May's EU-wide elections would get the jobs.
Juncker was a lead candidate in 2014, which lawmakers say brings more democratic legitimacy to the post.
Juncker says he told the leaders: "I always had the impression that I would enter history but not like that. Because I am a very unique guy. I was the first and last" lead candidate.
It's unclear whether the European Parliament will endorse von der Leyen.
Moscow, Jul 3 (AP/UNB) — President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill suspending Russia's participation in a pivotal nuclear arms treaty.
Putin's decree released on Wednesday formalizes Russia's departure from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States following Washington's withdrawal from the pact.
The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the INF in February, setting the stage for it to terminate in six months unless Moscow returns to compliance. Russia has denied any breaches, and accused the U.S. of violating the pact. Moscow followed Washington's example in February, also suspending its obligations under the treaty.
Putin has warned the U.S. against deploying new missiles in Europe, saying that Russia will retaliate by fielding new fast weapons that will take just as little time to reach their targets.