Copenhagen is next week hosting World Outgames 2009, a nine-day festival of sports, culture, and a conference on gay rights that will involve over 100 countries under the banner “Love of freedom, freedom to love”.

Ritt Bjerregaard, the lord mayor of Copenhagen, calls the event “a very special honour” for the city,.

Commenting on the event, she said: “It was 20 years ago that Denmark became the first country to legally recognise homosexual relationships.”

She added that the games represented a perfect way to celebrate this anniversary.

Representatives from Melbourne, Tel Aviv, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, among many others, will meet in a Mayoral Summit during the festival, which will focus on “diversity as a key element to urban innovation”.

The festival will also include a large sports programme, incorporating rowing, beach volleyball and swimming, as exhibitions, a film festival, an international choir festival, a leather festival and several large parties.

Uffe Elbeak, director of the event, called it “the Olympics in 3D, where sport is accompanied by two equally important dimensions: a wide ranging cultural programme and a human rights conference focusing on issues important to the LGBT community.”

The Copenhagen Cathedral has also organised a mass blessing, which offers gay couples special recognition by the Church to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the legalisation of same-sex civil unions in the country.