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Our history

In 2022, we celebrated our 30th anniversary. An occasion to celebrate, but also one to look back – on milestones, on achievements, on the history of the queer movement in and around Leipzig. Leipzig’s Christopher Street Day began in 1992 with a small, but all the more motivated group of queer people and a handful of posters in front of the Moritzbastei. But how did it come about and what has happened since then? The history of CSD Leipzig is of course closely linked to queer emancipation in Germany as a whole and to political developments in this country, which is why we would like to take this opportunity to take a look at it.

In the following, we would like to take you on a short journey through more than 30 years of CSD in Leipzig.

Queer emancipation over the past decades

You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.

The historical origins of the global Pride movement lie in the 1960s in New York’s Greenwich Village neighbourhood on Christopher Street. At that time, nightclubs that were mainly frequented by queer people were repeatedly raided by the police. On 28 June 1969, trans women of colour, drag queens, lesbians and gays began to defend themselves against this arbitrary action at the Stonewall Inn and fought back against arrest and discrimination in street battles that lasted for days.

It was an awakening moment for emancipation and equal rights, which led to liberation movements around the globe in the years and decades that followed. Fear became courage, hiding became pride.

On 28 June 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street in New York (USA), the foundation stone was laid for the Pride movement around the world.

In the 1960s, police raids, harassment and insults were the order of the day in and around Christopher Street, a meeting place for the queer scene at the time. They were the trigger for the first serious resistance against the arbitrary discrimination of queer people on the night of 27-28 June 1969, which was followed by street battles and protests against the police that lasted for several days. They were led by BIPoC, drag queens, trans people, gays, lesbians and other queer people. Among the activists of the first hour were people such as Marsha P. Johnson, Joseph Ratanski and Sylvia Rivera. They were people who were rejected by society and had no safe spaces.

In memory of this violence and the awakening moment of the queer community, annual demonstrations called “Christopher Street Day” (CSD) or “Pride” have taken place around the world in the following years and decades to this day.

The events in New York also made waves internationally. The first gay pride marches and parades took place in numerous major cities in the USA and around the world in the months and years following the riots.

The first queer demonstration in Germany took place in Münster three years after the Stonewall riots. Similar demonstrations followed in Berlin and Bremen at the end of the 1970s. For fear of social ostracism, many of the participants wore masks.

The so-called Transsexuals Act (TSG) was introduced in Germany as the “Act on Changing First Names and Determining Gender Identity in Special Cases”. It made it possible for trans people to change their first name for the first time. The law contained numerous highly discriminatory regulations, which were gradually overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court. Even after more than 40 years, the TSG still ignores the reality of trans people’s lives and urgently needs to be abolished and replaced by a self-determination law. You can read more about this under point 10 of our demands.

The first CSD in Leipzig – and also the first CSD in the new federal states – took place just three years after reunification and 23 years after the Stonewall riots. Around 100 people gathered at the Moritzbastei under the militant slogan “Lesbians and gays in the constitution!”. The demonstration was organised by courageous people such as Kathrin Darlatt, Peter Thürer, Eddy Stapel, Detlev Hüttig, Dr Cornelia Matzke and Marion Ziegler. Members of the Bundestag and “citizens and not just lesbians and gays” were invited. Even back then, the City of Leipzig and the “Representatives for Same-Sex Lifestyles of the City of Leipzig” were co-organisers of the very first Leipzig CSD.

We are particularly proud and grateful that some of the activists from back then are still actively involved in CSD Leipzig and the interests of the queer community in our city today.

As part of the ICD-10, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removes homosexuality from the catalogue of mental illnesses. The new version came into force worldwide in 1994.

The WHO resolution was passed on 17 May 1990. The International Day Against Homo-, Bi-, Inter- and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), which also takes place every year, refers to this date.

For more than 120 years, Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code criminalised homosexuality and legitimised the persecution of homosexual and bisexual men. First introduced in 1872, at the time of the German Empire, the paragraph continued to exist until after reunification. In 1935, the paragraph was tightened by the Nazi regime, in which the restriction to acts similar to sexual intercourse was removed, making even kissing and later “lustful intentions” a punishable offence. By the end of the Second World War, around 50,000 gay men had been convicted on the basis of §175. Around 5,000 to 6,000 of them were deported to concentration camps. There they were labelled with the “pink triangle” and treated extremely cruelly.

The paragraph remained unchanged in the FRG until 1969. In the decades that followed, it was slightly weakened. On the territory of the former GDR, which had already abolished the paragraph in 1968, §175 StGB was reintroduced for a short time after reunification, until it was finally abolished without replacement throughout Germany in 1994.

This was followed by a decades-long battle for the rehabilitation of the wrongfully convicted men. It was not until 22 July 2017 that the law on the criminal rehabilitation of men convicted after 8 May 1945 came into force. Unfortunately, it came too late for many.

On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust on 27 January 2023, the German Bundestag explicitly commemorated queer victims of the Nazi regime for the first time.

In the years after 1992, Leipzig Pride took place annually (see below). However, as a result of reunification, more and more young queer people moved to “the West”. Due to a lack of interest and a shrinking community in Leipzig, the Pride movement initially came to a standstill at the end of the 1990s.

Colloquially referred to as “marriage light” or “gay marriage”, the registered civil partnership was introduced in Germany in August 2001. It made it possible for homosexual couples to give their relationship a legal framework for the first time. While the Netherlands introduced marriage for all in the same year, only a compromise was reached in Germany, which did not fully equalise same-sex registered partnerships with heterosexual marriages and therefore continued to discriminate against them.

After a break of a few years, the Leipzig Pride movement started up again in 2004, initiated by the students council (StuRa) of Leipzig University. A week of 22 events was organised. At the end of the Pride week, a street festival was held at the Nikolaikirchhof. Around 400 people marched through the city centre. At that time, they were less colourful and numerous, but still had important political demands.

The year before, the StuRa had already made a statement in favour of equal rights and the visibility of the queer community by hoisting the rainbow flag in front of the university’s old administration building, thus bringing attention for the Pride movement “back” to Leipzig.

Thanks to a city council resolution, the rainbow flag was hoisted at Neues Rathaus for the first time in 2006 – although not on the flagpoles directly in front of the main entrance like the other flags, but a little hidden at the side of the building, at the transition to the town hall. It was not until 2009 that the rainbow flag was also allowed to fly in front of the main entrance to Leipzig’s administrative centre.

In 2009, more than 2,000 visitors attended Leipzig Pride for the first time – twice as many as the previous year. In cooperation with the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, a poster campaign was organised in the run-up to CSD to confront viewers with their prejudices. Posters with inscriptions such as “Would you water your neighbour’s flowers? – Even though you know she was born a boy?” were distributed in many places in Leipzig and were intended to provocatively encourage people to think and rethink.

Queer visibility throughout society is one of the main concerns of the Pride movement. At Pride 2013, the focus should be entirely on the I in LGBTQIA, which stands for intersex and intergender people. This should also be reflected in the motto “L(i)eben und l(i)eben lassen” (Live/Love and let live/love).

After the introduction of registered civil partnerships in 2001, individual rights of same-sex partnerships were increasingly adapted to “traditional marriage”. Mostly as a result of constitutional complaints by queer people.

In June 2017, the German Bundestag finally voted on opening up marriage to same-sex people and passed the corresponding law with a majority of 393 MPs. In addition to the SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and DIE LINKE parliamentary groups, some CDU/CSU MPs even voted in favour of the law. On 1 October 2017, the opening of marriage came into force and the first same-sex couples were finally able to marry – after many years of fighting for equal rights.

However, even with marriage for all, there is still no complete equality. Lesbian mothers were and continue to be disadvantaged in terms of parentage law.

In its decision of 10 October 2017, the highest German court states that the general right of personality as a fundamental right also protects the gender identity of people who do not belong to any of the binary genders (male/female). The court calls on the Federal Government to create the possibility of a third gender registration for non-binary people in civil status law. As a result, “diverse” can now be registered as a gender.

50 years after the Stonewall riots, our number of participants reached five figures for the first time. Under the slogan: “50 years of Stonewall – we’re not finished yet!”, over 10,000 people demonstrated in Leipzig for equal rights and visibility for queer people.

At the beginning of 2020, people’s lives in Germany, Europe and around the world were turned upside down – the coronavirus spread rapidly, forcing people to avoid contact and severely restrict their social lives and other activities.

One group of people particularly affected by these restrictions were queer people, especially in rural areas. SafeSpaces were closed and single queer people were sometimes lonely. In cooperation with the CSD, the city of Leipzig launched the “You are not alone” campaign to show people, especially in the rural regions around Leipzig and throughout Saxony, that they are not forgotten. In some villages, a rainbow flag in the form of a poster was displayed for the first time ever. In addition to a lot of hate, we also received an overwhelming number of letters, some of them emotional, from queer people from all corners of the state.

Unfortunately, limiting contacts also meant that the CSD had to adapt. Even without the traditional big demonstration at the end of the event week, we wanted to show that the queer community sticks together. Due to the dynamic infection situation, CSD Leipzig, like many other CSDs, decided not to hold a demonstration. Instead, an exhibition of pictures from past decades was organised on Leipzig’s market square with a small stage for speeches. Wearing masks and keeping their distance, some people gathered and marched individually through the city centre with Pride flags. In the evening, a political and entertaining evening programme via livestream rounded off the day.

With the ICD-11 adopted in 2018, the World Health Organization is removing “gender identity disorders” from the catalogue of mental illnesses with effect from 1 January 2022. Transgender is now finally recognised as a natural form of gender identity.

And now?! Everything achieved?

Again and again, the question arises as to whether the CSD is still needed at all. After all, you can now get married, adopt children, change your gender, what else do you want? We can only answer: quite a lot! Our catalogue of demands is growing rather than shrinking.

From a complete ban on “conversion therapies” to the abolition of the Transsexuals Act and an end to discrimination in blood donations, even 30 years after the first CSD in Leipzig there are unfortunately still many issues that need to be resolved to put an end to discrimination against queer people. However, CSDs and queer demonstrations are also needed to maintain what has been achieved. One look at our neighbouring countries is enough to see how fragile equality and human rights unfortunately are.

When right-wing movements try to take our society back to times long past, we need to be all the louder and more visible!

Pride in Leipzig at a glance

Over three decades of Pride in Leipzig, that’s years in which we have worked on many key topics and have always surpassed ourselves in terms of participation at the Pride demonstration – and that’s only thanks to all of you! Below you will find a chronological overview of the previous Prides with the most important key dates and the respective programme booklet. From 2020 onwards, you will also find a detailed review with photos of the demonstrations and recordings of the stage programme.

28 June 1992
„Lesbians and gays in the constitution“

For the first time, a small group of queer people gathered in Leipzig under this motto to demonstrate for their rights. Around 100 people took part in the first Leipzig CSD in the Moritzbastei.

View flyer

16 Jun 1993
Gay-lesbian summer party

In the second year of Leipzig Pride, a summer party with speeches and discussions took place in Halle 5 in Connewitz.

View flyer

Programme week on the occasion of Stonewall's 25th anniversary

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a colourful programme of events was organised - once again in the Moritzbastei.

First visible protest in Leipzig city centre

In collaboration with Leipzig youth groups, a public campaign was organised in Salzgässchen, not far from the market. For the first time, a banner in a central location was used to draw attention to the concerns of the community and actively address passers-by.

In contrast to previous years, participation from the queer community was much more restrained for fear of involuntary outing and/or possible personal consequences.

Participation in Pride demonstration in Dresden

Together with actors from the queer community, shuttle buses were organised to take part in the Dresden Pride demonstration. In Leipzig, readings and discussions were once again held in a safe space.

At the same time, there were increasing calls from the Leipzig community to organise a demonstration here too.
However, due to an overall shrinking scene and a lack of interest, the Leipzig Pride was cancelled for the time being.

06 - 13 June 2004
"Equal love - equal rights"

After a few years of absence, Leipzig Pride is revived by the Student:innenrat of Leipzig University. Around 400 people marched through the city centre.

The year before, the StuRa had already ensured more queer visibility in Leipzig by ceremonially hoisting the rainbow flag in front of the university, thus laying the foundation for the final breakthrough of Pride in Leipzig.

View programme booklet

05 - 11 June 2005
"Love without borders"

Leipzig Pride began to grow and for the first time over 30 events were organised for the programme week.

View programme booklet

20 - 27 May 2006
"Love your neighbour"

Under this motto, over 500 people demonstrated in Leipzig city centre in May. The rainbow flag was also hoisted at the New Town Hall for the first time this year.

View programme booklet

14 - 21 July 2007
"Equal opportunities for equal love"

In 2007, the now customary date of mid-July was established. In addition, the Pride now had an ambassador for the first time - a tradition that has been continued ever since. With Ulrike Lunacek, the Leipzig Pride had a face for the first time and 800 people marched through Leipzig city centre for the demonstration.

View programme booklet

05 - 12 July 2008
„Wir sind Familie! – We are family! – Egy család vagyunk!“

Leipzig Pride breaks the 1,000-participant mark for the first time. This year's ambassador was Leipzig's mayor and councillor for youth, social affairs, health and schools, Thomas Fabian (SPD).

View programme booklet

04 - 12 July 2009
"Homophobia is curable"

The continuous growth in the number of participants continues: 2,000 people are already taking part in the Pride in Leipzig this year. For the 40th Stonewall anniversary, Leipzig's mayor Heiko Rosenthal (Die Linke) was once again an ambassador for the CSD.

View programme booklet

09 - 17 July 2010
"Homophobia is curable"

New year - same motto. Once again, around 2,000 people take part in the Leipzig Pride. The ambassador was comic artist Ralf König.

View programme booklet

02 - 09 July 2011
"Homophobia is curable"

All good things come in threes: once again, a special focus was placed on the topic of homophobia - this year in particular in connection with the Catholic Church and the upcoming visit to Germany by the then Pope. For the first time, there were three ambassadors for this occasion: David Berger (theologian), Tanja Walther-Ahrens (professional footballer) and Wolfgang Tiefensee (former Mayor of Leipzig, SPD).

In retrospect, Leipzig Pride expressly distances itself from David Berger and his right-wing populist statements in the years following his role as ambassador.

View programme booklet

07 - 14 July 2012
"Beyond the horizon it goes on..."

This year, it was important to us to draw attention to ways of living and loving outside the heteronormative world. The Pride ambassador was Monika Lazar (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), who was a member of the Bundestag in Leipzig at the time.

View programme booklet

12 - 20 Juli 2013
„Live/Love and let live/love“

This year's Pride was all about the I in LGBTIQ* and focussed intensively on intersexuality. This year's ambassador was activist Lucie Veith.

By the way: Since 2013, our demo has always started and ended on Leipzig's market square, where the big street festival that traditionally brings Leipzig Pride week to a close also took place afterwards.

Programmheft ansehen

11 - 19 July 2014
„Love has no Label“

After the number of participants had stagnated in previous years, it climbed to over 4,000 for the first time. This year, the role of ambassador was assumed by the then Rector of the University of Music and Theatre "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" (HMT) Leipzig, Robert Ehrlich.

View programme booklet

10 - 18 July 2015
"You, me, we are HOMOsapiens"

At that time, initiatives such as "Concerned Parents" were demonstrating against sexual education in schools and educational content on sexual and gender diversity. That's why we dedicated ourselves to precisely this topic and, for the first time, had an organisation as an ambassador in the form of the Leipzig Pupils' Council.

View programme booklet

08 - 16 July 2016
Sexual orientations and gender identities in the context of religions

This year, Leipzig Pride focussed on the topic of religion and specifically discrimination against queer people in their respective faith communities. The pastor of St Thomas' Church, Britta Taddiken, was our ambassador on this occasion. Around 4,500 people took part in the demonstration.

View programme booklet

07 - 15 July 2017
„Stop Hate!“

Leipzig Pride addresses the radicalisation in our society and the shift to the right in Germany and other European countries. We were able to win the Queer Refugees for Pride initiative as the ambassador for this event. The number of participants climbed to 7,000.

View programme booklet

13 - 21 July 2018
"Against racism, sexism, homo-, trans- and inter-hostility"

This year, we continued to focus on the shift to the right in our society and especially in Saxony, the federal state in which the AfD achieved its highest results in last year's federal elections and the birthplace of the PEGIDA movement.
The queer youth groups JungS and JuLe acted as ambassadors. Around 7,500 people took part in the demonstration.

View programme booklet

05 - 13 July 2019
"50 years of Stonewall - we're not finished yet!"

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Leipzig Pride once again attracted a record number of visitors: for the first time, over 10,000 people demonstrated in Leipzig city centre for equal rights and visibility for queer people. This year's ambassador was the LAG Queeres Netzwerk Sachsen.

View programme booklet

10 - 18 July 2020
„You are not alone!“

The coronavirus pandemic has of course also had a massive impact on the Leipzig Pride, so unfortunately it was not possible to organise a large demonstration and subsequent street festival in 2020. With a lot of creativity, we put together a replacement programme that was mainly based on online formats. Nevertheless, we did not miss out on a local action on Leipzig's market square.

This year, we also launched the "You are not alone!" campaign together with the city of Leipzig to help queer people in Saxony gain more visibility, especially in times of contact restrictions.

View programme booklet

Review of Pride 2020

09 - 17 July 2021

This year, we were finally able to take over the city centre ring road again and show our colours in a central location. For the first time, our demonstration did not start on the market square but with a stationary rally in Rosental - in order to maintain the required distances - and ended on Augustusplatz.

Unfortunately, the big street party had to be cancelled again this year. However, a colourful programme was still put together via livestream and we were able to regain a little bit of normality.

Despite the ongoing restrictions, we were once again able to record an increase in the number of people taking part in the demonstration to 12,000!
This year's CSD was all about inclusion and accessibility, especially within the queer community. Our ambassadors were the drag queen BayBJane and the YouTuber duo Gewitter im Kopf.

View programme booklet

Review of Pride 2021

08 - 16 July 2022
"30 years of Leipzig Pride - respect for all!"

Under this motto, we celebrated our 30th anniversary this year with stunning 20,000 participants at a central location on Leipzig's Augustusplatz. We were supported by three ambassadors who are committed to the queer community in very different ways and represent its diversity: Peter Thürer (sex educator and co-organiser of the first Leipzig Pride in 1992), Katharina Oguntoye (writer and activist) and Fabian Grischkat (filmmaker and activist).

The newly created CSD Leipzig Award for Queer Commitment was awarded for the first time this year. On the occasion of our anniversary, it was awarded twice: to Peter Thürer and to the Queer Refugees Network of RosaLinde Leipzig e.V.

View programme booklet

Review of Pride 2022

07 - 15 July 2023
"The future is queer"

The rapid growth in the number of participants after the pandemic led to a new, larger venue last year and our street party took place on Augustusplatz again this year. It was probably the hottest CSD ever with 36 degrees in the shade. Accordingly, the number of people taking part in the demonstration fell slightly to 16,000.

But despite the sweltering temperatures, we took a look into a queer future with our ambassadors Barbara Wallbraun (Leipzig filmmaker) and Lucas Krzikalla (SC DHfK Leipzig).

This year, Gerda Matzel received the CSD Leipzig Award for Queer Commitment.

View programme booklet

Review of Pride 2023