World News

Gay rights protest hits Toronto ahead of G20

A woman wearing a mask resembling the face of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper dances in the streets ahead of the G20 summit in Toronto, June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - As the number of police multiply on Toronto streets ahead of the G20 summit this week, gay rights protesters marched through the downtown shopping district in carnival gear to demand global leaders address minority issues.

Dressed in everything from jeans to grass skirts and pink tights, more than 100 protesters danced through streets a few blocks from where leaders from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries will meet this weekend.

“We’re queer, we’re fabulous, we’re against the G20,” marchers chanted as two dozen police on mountain bikes watched, breaking their strict formation at least once to tackle a rowdy protester to the ground.

One protester wearing tights, stilettos and a pink-faced, papier-mache head of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper clapped along as demonstrators danced to the beat of drums.

Protesters said they were trying to draw attention to the rights of all minority populations marginalized because of their gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status.

Canada is spending about C$1 billion ($980 million) on security for two back-to-back international summits this week.

The Group of Eight will meet in the town of Huntsville, Ontario, 215 km (135 miles) north of Toronto on June 25-26. The larger G20 gathers June 26-27 in Toronto, where the city center is awash with police and security fencing.

Protest groups have pledged to keep their demonstrations peaceful, although even legitimate activists say talk is growing of extremist groups who plan to use the marches to provoke clashes with police.

(Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)

For more news on Reuters India, click