Rio De Janeiro Gay Pride 2012: Half A Million People Celebrate In Brazil (VIDEO)

More than half a million people flooded the streets near Brazil's Copacabana beach this weekend for Rio de Janeiro's 2012 gay pride parade, local police estimate. The 17th annual LGBT parade, which took place on Sunday, kicked off a week of gay pride festivities in the city.

During the 1.3-mile parade, which featured 15 carnival floats, drag queens and DJ music, participants wore carnival-inspired outfits and toted a giant rainbow flag. This year, the parade highlighted the issue of homophobia in Brazilian society, the BBC reported.

According to Grupo Arco-Iris (Rainbow Group), who organized the parade, 266 people were killed in Brazil last year because of their sexual orientation.

"The LGBT community spends most of the year in Brazil hiding, deprived of many of their rights," Grupo Arco-Iris President Julio Moreira told Jornal do Brasi, according to Gay Star News.

Campaigns against homophobia and discrimination have become increasingly important recently as Brazil prepares to decide on a bill that would outlaw discrimination of LGBT people. Although the Brazilian state passed an anti-discrimination law that remained in effect for 12 years, the attorney general annulled the LGBT protection law in October, citing how it was illegally introduced.

However, Governor Sérgio Cabral was quick to send an identical anti-discrimination law to the state's assembly for voting the day after the previous law was annulled.

Watch footage from Rio de Janeiro's parade in the video above, and see scenes from gay pride festivals around the world in the gallery below.

Gay Pride Around The World