June 7, 2017 at 9:18 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-gay crackdowns overshadow global Pride month commemorations

Supporters of Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, take part in an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia March in Havana on May 13, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Advocates around the world plan to celebrate Pride month with parades, marches and other events.

More than three million people are expected to attend the World Pride Madrid 2017 Parade on July 1.

The world’s first-bisexual themed Pride parade will take place in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on June 9. Kyiv Pride — an eight-day series of events in the Ukrainian capital that ends with an LGBT and intersex rights march on June 18 — is scheduled to begin on the same day.

“Kyiv Pride is a peaceful human rights demonstration that appears as (the) realization of the freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of speech and expression for (the) LGBTI community and stands for drawing attention to the problems faced by LGBTI people,” reads the Kyiv Pride website.

Tens of thousands of people took part in an “Equality Parade” in the Polish capital of Warsaw on June 3. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin and Athens are among the other European cities in which Pride events are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks and months.

Panamanian first lady Lorena Castillo de Varela is among those who are expected to participate in a Pride march in Panama City on July 1. The event will take place against the backdrop of two same-sex marriage cases that are currently before the Panama Supreme Court.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation, a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, on June 24 will hold a march in the country’s capital of Santiago in support of marriage for same-sex couples and a transgender rights law.

Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who directs the country’s National Center for Sexual Education, and other LGBT rights advocates participated in marches and other events across Cuba last month that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Advocates in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador are scheduled to commemorate Pride later this month.

Not ‘safe’ to hold Pride marches in Indonesia

More than 70 countries around the world criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. Homosexuality remains punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania and a handful of other nations.

This year’s Pride season will take place against the backdrop of ongoing anti-gay crackdowns in Chechnya and Indonesia and mounting international criticism of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity remain pervasive in several parts of the world.

“Given the current atmosphere, I don’t think it’s safe to hold Pride marches in Indonesia,” Dédé Oetomo, an LGBT rights advocate from the Indonesian city of Surabaya, told the Blade earlier this week.

Helem, a Lebanese LGBT advocacy group, last month held a series of events that marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which commemorates the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The Beirut venue at which the events were originally scheduled to take place abruptly cancelled them because Lebanese authorities said they could not guarantee participants’ safety. A Beirut hotel’s decision to cancel a Lebanese human rights organization’s workshop that it was supposed to have hosted this month sparked outrage among the Middle Eastern country’s activists.

Nelson Gandulla, president of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, claims Cuban authorities prevented him from meeting with a group of U.S. activists in Havana last month. Gandulla told the Blade during an exclusive interview at his home in the Cuban city of Cienfuegos on May 16 — the day before the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — the Communist island’s government is persecuting him because he publicly criticizes Mariela Castro.

“We don’t have any type of legal recognition from the Cuban authorities,” said Gandulla.

Uganda Pride scheduled to take place in August

LGBT activists in Tunisia last month held a public event that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

A Tunisian activist with whom the Blade spoke on Tuesday said the police took a picture of a poster that advertised the event and “demanded to talk with the organizer” before they left. The activist said there are no Pride-related events scheduled to take place in the North African country.

“Unfortunately nothing is happening here,” the activist told the Blade. “The situation is very bad. We have Ramadan, the ‘holy month,’ and people are aggressive.”

Organizers of last year’s Uganda Pride events cancelled them after police arrested more than a dozen people who were attending a beauty pageant at a nightclub. An activist from the East African country told the Blade this week there “are plans to hold annual Pride events” in August.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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    When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
    – Proverbs 11:2

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