More than 150,000 people attended the 22nd annual gay pride event in Buenos Aires on Saturday, which featured many signs and speeches including some criticisms of the former bishop, Pope Francis I, who once vowed to oppose the city’s same-sex marriage laws.

The capital of Argentina started its annual parade with a group kiss, before heading to a cultural festival held in Plaza de Mayo, featuring a fireworks demonstration.

OnTop magazine reports the parade was Buenos Aires’ third celebration since it legalised same-sex marriage in 2010.

In signs and speeches, attendees made many references to Pope Francis, who despite recently saying he won’t judge gay people, was criticised in his former role as bishop of Buenos Aires for opposing the city’s equal marriage laws.

One participant, Norberto Lorenzo, said: “From the pope’s point of view there is no official line on the gay community.”

In the past, Francis has been criticised for his ambivalence towards gay issues, with some saying he still still regards homosexuality as a sin for which people must repent.

Mr Lorenzo added: “And we aren’t very optimistic. The church doesn’t recognize the status of gay people, nor gay couples, gay marriage, nor lesbians, not divorce. We knew quite well the Catholic Church wouldn’t accept us. So we will continue to be Catholic and we do not deny our Catholicism or to be gay.”

Maria, a teacher at Mocha Celis, the world’s first high school devoted to transsexuals, told the AFP: “Pride is what identifies us all. It is the last step to be recognized as a person, to be proud of yourself and know what you are. It’s the best feeling you can have in your life.”

In March, a gay couple was reportedly assaulted by a group of people in the Argentine city of San Isidro, with the attackers allegedly defending their actions due to the nationality of the new Pope.