30 years of CSD in Leipzig – Our history

In the year 2022 we are celebrating our 30th anniversary. An occasion to celebrate, but also to look back at milestones, achievements and the history of the queer* movement in and around Leipzig. Leipzig Christopher Street Day began in 1992 with a small but 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 intertwined with queer* emancipation in Germany as a whole and political developments in this country. For this reason, we would like to take this opportunity to look at those topics as well.

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

You can find a detailed overview of the CSDs over the last 30 years further down.

28th June 1969 – The Stonewall Riots

On June 28th, 1969, the cornerstone of the pride movement around the world was laid at the Stonewall Inn, a bar on Christopher Street in New York, USA.

In the 1960s, police raids, harassment and abusive language were commonplace in and around Christopher Street, then a meeting point for the queer* scene. These were the catalyst for the first serious resistance to arbitrary discrimination against queer* people on the night of June 27th to 28th, 1969. Street battles and protests against the police followed and lasted for several days. They were led by BIPoC, drag queens, trans* people, gays, lesbians and other queer* people. Early activists included people like Marsha P. Johnson, Joseph Ratanski, and Sylvia Rivera. These were people who were outcast from 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 parades took place around the world in the following years and decades and still continue to this day.

April 1972 – First CSD in Deutschland

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

The first queer demonstration in Germany took place in Münster, three years after the Stonewall Uprising. Similar demonstrations followed in Berlin and Bremen in the late 1970s. Many of the participants wore masks as they feared social ostracism. 

1st January 1981 – Introduction of the Transsexual Act (TSG)

The Transsexuellengesetz (TSG) (Transsexual Act) was introduced in Germany as the “Act on forename changes and determination of gender affiliation in special cases”. For the first time, it allowed transgender people to change their first names. The law contained numerous highly discriminatory provisions, which were gradually overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court. Even after more than 40 years, the TSG still fails to reflect 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.

28th June 1992 – First CSD in Leipzig

The first CSD in Leipzig – and also the first CSD in the new German states – took place only around three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and 23 years after the Stonewall Uprising. About 100 people met at the Moritzbastei cultural centre under the militant motto Lesben und Schwule in die Verfassung! (include lesbians and gays in the constitution). The demonstration was organised by courageous people like Kathrin Darlatt, Peter Thürer, Eddy Stapel, Detlev Hüttig, Dr. Cornelia Matzke and Marion Ziegler. Members of the Bundestag were invited to attend along with “citizens and not just lesbians and gays”. The city of Leipzig and their representatives for same-sex lifestyles of the city were already involved as co-organisers of the very first Leipzig CSD.

We are especially proud and grateful that some of the original activists are still actively involved in the CSD Leipzig and in championing the concerns of the queer community in our city.

1st January 1994 – Homosexuality removed from list of diseases, IDAHOBIT

The World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses during the 10th revision of the ICD. The new version came into force worldwide from 1994 onwards.

The WHO had already passed the resolution on 17th May 1990. The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is also held every year on this date.

11th June 1994 – Final abolition of para. 175 of the StGB

For more than 120 years, paragraph 175 of the Germany penal code criminalised homosexuality and legitimised the persecution of homosexual and bisexual men. First introduced in 1872 at the time of the German Empire, this paragraph remained in place until after reunification. The paragraph was tightened by the Nazi regime in 1935. For instance, the restriction to acts similar to coitus was deleted and thus even kisses and later also “lustful intentions” became punishable. By the end of World War II, approximately 50,000 gay men had been convicted on the basis of para. 175. About 5000 to 6000 of them were deported to concentration camps. There, they were made to wear a pink triangle emblem and treated extraordinarily cruelly.

Paragraph 175 remained unchanged in the FRG until 1969. The severity of the restrictions decreased slightly over the decades that followed. During the reunification of Germany, para. 175 of the StGB was temporarily reintroduced in the territory of the former GDR, which had already abolished the paragraph in 1968. It was finally deleted without replacement throughout Germany in 1994.

What followed was a decades-long struggle for the exoneration of wrongfully convicted men. It was not until 22nd July 2017 that the act to exonerate men convicted after 8th May 1945 came into force. For many it unfortunately came too late.

On the occasion of the international day of remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust on January 27, 2023, the German Bundestag explicitly commemorated queer victims of the Nazi regime for the first time. For further information you can find our news post here (German).

1990s – Emigration from the former GDR

The CSD Leipzig was held annually (see below) in the years following 1992. However, more and more young queer people were drawn to the West as a result of reunification. Due to a lack of interest and the shrinking community in Leipzig, the CSD movement therefore came to a standstill for a time at the end of the 1990s.

For more information on the origin of Leipzig CSD and the events of the 90s, why not listen to Episode 21 of our podcast Inside CSD Leipzig.

1st August 2001 – Civil Partnership Act

Colloquially referred to as “marriage light” or “gay marriage”, the Act on Registered Life Partnerships was introduced in Germany in August 2001. It enabled homosexual couples to give their relationship a legal basis for the first time. While the Netherlands had already introduced marriage for all in the same year, Germany only provided a compromise. It did not fully equate same-sex registered partnerships to heterosexual marriages and thus continued to discriminate against them.

2003/2004 – A new beginning in Leipzig

After an interval of some years, the Leipzig CSD movement started up again in 2004 initiated by the student council (StuRa) of Leipzig University. They organised a week of 22 events. A street party was held in Nikolaikirchhof at the end of CSD week. About 400 people marched through the city centre demonstrating. At this time, the crowd of participants was less colourful and smaller, but they still made important political demands.

In the preceding year, the student council made a stand for equality and the visibility of the queer* community by raising the rainbow flag in front of the university’s old administration building. This put the CSD movement back in the spotlight in Leipzig.

2006 – Rainbow flag at the New Town Hall for the first time

Thanks to a resolution of the city council, the rainbow flag was hoisted on the New Town Hall for the first time in 2006. However, it was not displayed on the flagpoles directly in front of the main portal like the other flags. Instead it was slightly hidden away at the side of the building at the transition to the Town House. Not until 2009 was the rainbow flag also allowed to fly in front of the main entrance to Leipzig’s administrative headquarters.

2009 – Record number of visitors and poster campaign

In 2009, more than 2000 guests took part in CSD Leipzig for the first time – twice as many as in the previous year. In the lead-up to CSD, we ran a poster campaign in cooperation with the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig. The aim of the campaign was to confront the public with their prejudices. Posters with inscriptions such as “Would you water your neighbour’s plants even if you knew she was born a boy?” were hung throughout Leipzig and were designed to encourage people to consider and rethink their stances.

2013 – L(i)eben und l(i)eben lassen (love and let love)

Queer* visibility throughout society is one of the main concerns of the CSD movement. At CSD 2013, the focus was entirely on the I in LGBTQIA, which stands for intersex and intergender people. This was furthermore reflected by the motto L(i)eben und l(i)eben lassen (love and let love).

1st Oktober 2017 – Marriage for all

After registered civil partnerships were introduced in 2001, the rights bestowed by same-sex partnerships were aligned ever more closely with those of traditional marriages. This mostly came about as the result of constitutional challenges made by queer individuals.

In June 2017, the German Bundestag finally voted on opening marriage to same-sex people and passed the corresponding law with a majority of 393 votes. Even some members of the conservative CDU/CSU party voted in favour of the law in addition to the parliamentary groups of SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and DIE LINKE. On 1st October 2017, marriage for same-sex partners became legal and the first same-sex couples could finally tie the knot after many years of fighting for equal rights.

However, even with same-sex marriage in place, we are still some way from complete equality. Lesbian mothers have been and continue to be disadvantaged under parentage law.

10th October 2017 – Federal Constitutional Court enshrines rules on a third gender

In a resolution passed on 10th October 2017, the highest German court stated that the general right of personality is a fundamental right that also protects the gender identity of those people who do not belong to either of the binary genders (male/female). The court called on the federal government to create a third gender option in civil status law documentation for nonbinary people. As a result, people can now choose “diverse” as a gender option.

2019 – Over 10,000 people at CSD Leipzig for the first time

Attendance numbers reached five figures for the first time fifty years after the Stonewall Uprising. Under the slogan 50 Jahre Stonewall – wir sind noch nicht fertig! (50 years of Stonewall – we’re not done yet!), more than 10,000 people demonstrated in Leipzig for equal rights and the visibility of queer* people.

2020 – Pandemic and Saxony-wide visibility campaign

In the beginning of 2020, people’s lives in Germany, Europe and around the world were turned upside down. The COVID-19 virus spread rapidly forcing people to avoid contact and severely restricting their social lives and other activities.

One group particularly affected by these restrictions was queer* people, especially in rural areas. Safe spaces were closed and some single queer* people suffered from loneliness The city of Leipzig launched the campaign Du bist nicht allein (you are not alone) in cooperation with the CSD to show people, especially in the rural regions around Leipzig and throughout Saxony, that they had not been forgotten. Rainbow flag posters were hung – in some villages for the first time ever. In addition to a great deal of hate, we received an overwhelming number of positive messages, some of them very emotional, from queer* people from all corners of the Free State of Saxony. 

However, social distancing rules unfortunately also meant that CSD had to adapt. We wanted to show that the queer* community sticks together even if we couldn’t have the traditional big demonstration at the end of the event week. Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, the CSD Leipzig refrained from holding a demonstration, as did many other CSDs. Instead, we organised an exhibition of pictures from past decades on Leipzig’s market square and installed a small stage for speakers. A few people gathered – wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines – and marched through the city centre carrying Pride flags. We rounded off the day with an online evening of political discussion and entertainment.

01. Januar 2022 – Transsexuality removed as a mental disorder

The 11th revision of the ICD issued by the World Health Organization in 2018 removed gender identity disorders from the catalogue of mental illnesses, effective 1st January 2022. Transsexuality is now finally recognised as a natural form of gender.

And now what? Have we achieved everything we wanted to?

Again and again, we are asked whether the CSD is still needed at all. You can get married now, adopt children, change your gender, what more could you want? To this, we can only say: Quite a lot!

Our list of demands is growing rather than shrinking.

From the complete ban of conversion therapies, to the abolition of the Transsexual Act, to the end of discrimination in blood donation. Even 30 years after the first CSD in Leipzig there are unfortunately still many issues that must be resolved if there is to ever be an end to discrimination against queer* people. CSDs and queer demonstrations are also needed to maintain what has been achieved so far. Sadly, one look at our neighbouring countries is enough to see just how fragile equality and human rights still are.

When right-wing movements attempt to revert our society back to the bad old days, we must be all the louder and more visible!

Overview of Leipzig CSDs

Three decades of CSD in Leipzig! That’s three decades in which we have addressed a whole range of issues and surpassed our own expectations of participant numbers at the CSD demo time and again – and that is all thanks to all of you. Below you will find a chronological overview of past CSDs with the most important key data and the respective programmes.


Lesben und Schwule in die Verfassung! (Include lesbians and gays in the constitution!)

For the first time ever, a small group of queer* people gathered in Leipzig under this motto to demonstrate for their rights. About 100 people participated in the first Leipzig CSD at the Moritzbastei.


Gay summer party

In the second year of Leipzig CSD, a summer party with speakers and discussions was held in the Halle 5 in Connewitz.


Week of events dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Stonewall

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a colourful programme of events was organised. Once again, the gathering was held at the Moritzbastei.


First visible protest in Leipzig city centre

A public campaign was organised and held in Salzgässchen not far from the market in cooperation with Leipzig youth groups. For the first time, a banner was used to draw attention to the community’s concerns at a central location and to actively catch the eye of passers-by. 

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


Participation in CSD demonstration in Dresden

Working with members of the queer* community, shuttle buses were organised for guests to participate in the CSD Dresden demonstration. In Leipzig, readings and discussions were once again held in a protected space.

At the same time, calls from the Leipzig community for us to organise a local demonstration grew louder. 
However, due to the generally dwindling scene and lack of interest, the Leipzig CSD was put on hold for the time being.


Gleiche Liebe – Gleiche Rechte (equal love – equal rights)

After a few years of absence, the CSD Leipzig was revived by the Leipzig University student council. About 400 people marched through the city centre.

The previous year, the student council raised the profile of queer* visibility in Leipzig with the ceremonial hoisting of the rainbow flag in front of the university. This laid the foundation for the final breakthrough of CSD in Leipzig.


Liebe ohne Grenzen (love without limits)

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


Liebe deine Nächsten (love thy neighbour)

In May, more than 500 people demonstrated in the centre of Leipzig under this slogan. This year was also the first time that the rainbow flag was hoisted at the New City Hall.


Gleiche Chancen für gleiche Liebe (equal opportunities for equal love)

The date of the CSD in mid-July was established in 2007 and is still used since then. In this year, the CSD also had an ambassador for the first time, a tradition that has continued ever since. Ulrike Lunacek was Leipzig CSD’s first official representative and 800 people marched through Leipzig’s city centre for the demo.


Wir sind Familie! – Egy család vagyunk! – We are family!

Leipzig CSD exceeds 1000 participants for the first time. This year’s ambassador was Thomas Fabian (SPD), Mayor of Leipzig and Councillor for Youth, Social Affairs, Health and Schools.


Homophobie ist heilbar (homophobia is curable)

Steady growth in the number of participants continues: 2000 people took part in the Leipzig CSD this year. On the 40th Stonewall anniversary, a further Leipzig mayor, Heiko Rosenthal (Die Linke), was once again a CSD ambassador.


Homophobie ist heilbar (homophobia is curable)

New year – same motto. Once again, around 2000 people took part in CSD Leipzig. The ambassador was the comic artist Ralf König.


Homophobie ist heilbar (homophobia is curable)

All good things come in threes: Once again, special attention was paid to the issue of homophobia. It was particularly relevant in this year in connection with the Catholic Church and the upcoming visit to Germany by the pope at the time. There were three ambassadors on this occasion for the very first time: David Berger (theologian), Tanja Walther-Ahrens (professional soccer player) and Wolfgang Tiefensee (former Mayor of Leipzig, SPD).

In retrospect, CSD Leipzig expressly distances itself from David Berger and his statements in previous years.


Hinter dem Horizont geht’s weiter (the world continues over the horizon)

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


L(i)eben und l(i)eben lassen (love and let love)

This year, the CSD was all about the I in LGBTIQ* and dealt intensively with 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. The big street party that traditionally brings Leipzig’s CSD week to a close was also held here afterwards.


Liebe hat kein Label (love has no label)

After stagnating in previous years, the number of participants climbed to over 4000 for the first time. The role of ambassador in this year was assumed by Robert Ehrlich, then Rector of the Leipzig University of Music and Drama “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” (HMT).


Du, ich, wir sind HOMOsapiens (you, me, we are HOMOsapiens)

At that time, initiatives such as Besorgte Eltern (concerned parents) were protesting against sexual education in schools and educational content concerning sexual and gender diversity. For this reason, we dedicated ourselves to this very topic. Also, we had an organisation as an ambassador for the first time – the Leipzig City Pupils Council.


Sexual orientations and gender identities in the context of religions

This year, Leipzig CSD addressed the issue of religion and specifically discrimination against queer* people in their respective religious communities. On this occasion, the pastor of St. Thomas Church, Britta Taddiken, was our ambassador. About 4500 people took part in the demonstration.


Stop Hate!

CSD Leipzig addressed the radicalisation of our society and the shift to the right observed in Germany and other European countries. We succeeded in engaging the Queer Refugees for Pride initiative as this year’s ambassador. The number of participants climbed to 7000.


Gegen Rassismus, Sexismus, Homo-, Trans*- und Interfeindlichkeit (against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and interphobia)

This year, we continued to address the shift to the right seen in our society and especially in Saxony, the state in which the AfD achieved its highest results in last year’s federal elections and the place of origin of the PEGIDA movement.
The queer* youth groups JungS and JuLe acted as ambassadors. About 7500 people took part in the demonstration.


50 Jahre Stonewall – wir sind noch nicht fertig! (50 years of Stonewall – we’re not done yet!)

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, CSD Leipzig once again registered a record number of visitors. For the first time, over 10,000 people demonstrated for equal rights and visibility for queer* people in the centre of Leipzig. This year’s ambassador was the LAG Queer Network Saxony.


Du bist nicht allein! (you are not alone!)

The Corona pandemic did, of course, also massively affect Leipzig CSD. Unfortunately, it was not possible to stage a large demo and subsequent street festival in 2020. Drawing on a huge amount of creativity, we put together a replacement programme that relied primarily on online formats. Nevertheless, we did not allow ourselves to be deprived of a local campaign on Leipzig’s market square.

This year, in collaboration with the city of Leipzig, we also launched the campaign Du bist nicht allein! (you are not alone). Its goal is to help queer* people in Saxony become more visible, especially in times of social distancing rules.

You can find the review of CSD 2020 here.


(Un)sichtbar?! ((in)visible?!)

This year, we were finally able to demonstrate again by occupying the inner city ring road and so show our colours in a central location. For the first time, our demo did not start at the Marktplatz. Instead, it began with a stationary rally in Rosental park and ended on Augustusplatz. This enabled us to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 
Sadly, we had to cancel the big street party again this year. Nevertheless, we produced a colourful schedule of livestreamed events and recaptured a little bit of normality.

Despite the ongoing restrictions, the number of demo participants once again increased to 12,000 people!

This year’s CSD was all about inclusion and accessibility, especially within the queer* community. Our ambassadors were the drag queen BayBJane and the YouTube duo Gewitter im Kopf.

You can find the review of CSD 2021 here.


30 Jahre CSD Leipzig – Respekt für alle! (30 years of Leipzig CSD – Respect for everyone!)

In 2022, we celebrated our 30th anniversary at a central location on Leipzig’s Augustusplatz under this compassionate motto. We were assisted 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 CSD in 1992), Katharina Oguntoye (writer and activist) and Fabian Grischkat (filmmaker and activist).

You can find the review of CSD 2022 here