Downtown Madrid welcomed Saturday the traditional Gay Pride demonstration, which kicked off with thousands of people gathering at the Puerta de Alacala monument to demand marriage equality and protection of the rights they currently enjoy.

Called by the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, or FELGTB, and the LGTB organization of Madrid, the festive demonstration set off with more than 20 floats through downtown Madrid under the slogan "Marriage equality. Equality without cutbacks."

"Egalitarian secular state...we go the backside, at last with pride...homophobia is machismo" were some of the slogans on banners waved by the participants.

They also carried signs referring to the measure introduced by the governing Popular Party to have the law ruled unconstitutional that was approved by the previous Socialist government in the year 2005.

The PP favors unions between gays as long as they are not called marriages.

Heading the march, which paraded through the downtown square Puerta del Sol, were a number of Spanish politicians including the deputy secretary general of the opposition Socialist Party, or PSOE, Elena Valenciano, and the spokeswoman for the Union, Progress and Democracy Party, or UPyD, Rosa Diez, along with the chief representatives of the largest unions in the country.

It was a colorful demonstration that started with the blast of firecrackers under a sea of multicolored flags and balloons.

The purpose of the Gay Pride march, according to its organization, was to defend legal equality as an indispensable requisite in the fight against homophobia, and to protect certain inalienable rights of the entire population such as education against discrimination and quality health care for all. EFE