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Carrying a rainbow flag, people march during the 9th annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday. (AP Photo)

Hundreds of thousands of people jammed the streets of the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, in what may have been the largest gay pride parade in the world.

Revelers carried giant rainbow flags and danced to music blasting from sound trucks carrying drag queens and go-go boys on Sunday, in the ninth annual parade down Avenida Paulista in the city's financial district.

Police estimated that 1.8 million people attended the event while organizers put the crowd at about two million – including 700,000 foreign tourists.

If they're correct, the parade would be the largest of its kind in the world.

About 1.5 million people attended last year's event in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city. Gay pride parades in San Francisco and Berlin typically draw between 200,000 and 500,000 participants.

Legalize gay civil unions, crowd demands

Organizers stressed that the parade was in part a march for gay rights.

The main demand was for the government to legalize civil unions for gay couples. Legislation to do so has been stalled in the legislature for a decade.

"There have never been so many people at the Gay Pride Parade," said Pedro Almeida, a spokesman for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group that organized the parade.

"This shows true support for our cause, that of civil unions of people of the same sex."

Parade organizers want to get 1.2 million signatures on a petition by November to force Congress to vote on the law.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and Brazil is the world's largest Catholic country.

Brazil also leads the world in murders of homosexuals, Almeida said.

With a report from Agence France-Presse