Whilst the 2006 Winter Olympics plough on in Turin, a gay pride event is looking to also take the city by storm.

The Italian city is currently hosting a series of events under the umbrella of Turin Pride 2006 which will culminate in a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender event in June.

A gay sports competition is set to start next month and several lectures and musical programmes are scheduled. A gay film festival will be held April 20-27.

Event organiser Luigi Cipriniti”Our told the San Francisco Chronicle: “The intention is to have a party for all people so everyone can have a chance to celebrate, not just gays and lesbians.”

The mayor, the president of the province of Turin and the president of the Piedmont region welcomed the gay pride event, the first time such a declaration has been made in Italy.

“The industrial fight for workers rights in Italy started in Turin, and I think maybe civil rights came as part of that,” said Biagio Roggia, 34, a teacher and Bananamia announcer.

“It’s quite difficult to be gay in Italy,” said Pier Luigi, 27. “Here in Turin, it’s not a big scene. We have very few clubs and places to go.”

Mr Roggia said he worried that nobody but a few thousand gays and lesbians in Turin would show up for the June pride parade.