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THOUSANDS FLOCK TO GAY PARADE IN AUSTRALIA

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Hundreds of thousands of people packed central Sydney Saturday night for the city's annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, the culmination of a month of events celebrating homosexuality.

A record 200 floats joined the parade, featuring g-stringed male "brides" carrying red bouquets, nuns on in-line skates, hairy bears and a 13-foot-high effigy of Australian race quarrel parliamentarian Pauline Hanson.The parade, which mixes pointed political comment and bawdy humor, also featured a large "remembrance group" marching in memory of AIDS victims.

"The gay community has been ravaged by AIDS since the 1980s and this is a celebration of their lives," said Mardi Gras president Bev Lange.

Other attractions in the parade were the lesbian cycling group Dykes on Bikes and movie idol drag queens.