East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, has celebrated LGBTQI pride for a third year in a row, with a Pride March taking place in the capital, Dili, on July 12.

An estimated 3,000 people took part in the “Marsa Diversidade” (Diversity March), six times the number of people who took part in the first East Timor Pride Parade in 2017.

East Timor’s President Francisco Guterres released a statement in support of the event, writing “I am a President for all people!”

“I respect everyone! Respect and love tie us as family, as community, as a people. I ask everyone to see diversity as our nation’s wealth.”

“Together we strengthen collective power and knowledge. Together we fight for a society which is more just. Together we build a Nation which is full with respect and love to all.”

Homosexuality has been legal in East Timor since 1975 and the country has an equal age of consent.

However there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships in the majority Catholic island nation and there are few legal protections for LGBTQI people in East Timor – though bias on the basis of sexual orientation can be considered to be an aggravating circumstance in the prosecution of crimes.

East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century when its independence from Indonesia was formally recognised by the United Nations in 2002, following its act of self-determination in 1999.

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