More than 50 women marched through downtown Vancouver on Sunday, baring their breasts in the name of gender equality.

The march was part of a national campaign organized by GoTopless, a women's organization fighting for equal topless rights.

Organizers said similar marches were happening in 45 cities around the world.

"Being topless in B.C. is legal. We have the right to be topless and this is wonderful," GoTopless spokeswoman Denise Belisle said to a photo-snapping crowd that followed the marchers to Vancouver's Robson Square.

"What we need is respect. We need respect from society, we need respect from all of you."

About 30 men joined the march on Sunday, wearing bras to show their support.

"Equal rights. No double standard, right?" said Bruce Wildorn, who took off his shirt but taped his nipples as he marched alongside the topless women.

"For the women who do want to go topless, they should have that option. They do here in Vancouver, that's great, but not everywhere."

A few dozen men also followed the march as spectators, many of them crowding around to photograph the topless women.

"It's an education for men. Men are learning and they're learning to be more respectful," Belisle said.

"Too many cities it is illegal to be topless and we are here to say that equality is for all. Men and women."

Earlier this week, a Vancouver columnist and radio show host took off her top during an interview with Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray. Lori Welbourne was asking the mayor if it was legal for women in that B.C. city to go topless.

Women in Canada won the right to bare their breasts in public in 1996 when the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned the 1991 conviction of Gwen Jacobs, saying "there was nothing degrading or dehumanizing" about her decision to take off her shirt in public.

With files from the CBC's Petti Fong