June 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
From parades to violence, the world observes Pride month
Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

A rainbow flag hangs on the facade of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo)

LGBT rights advocates around the world are celebrating Pride month with parades, marches and other events.

Nearly two million people on June 7 attended Sao Paulo’s annual Pride parade that took place along the Brazilian city’s main thoroughfare. Petrobras, a state-run oil company, was among the sponsors of the annual event that remains one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations.

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus John Koenig on June 7 marched in the second annual Pride parade in Nicosia, the capital of the island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, alongside his counterparts from Australia, Austria and the U.K.

The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and other American diplomatic posts have publicly displayed rainbow flags in support of Pride month.

“This is a worldwide initiative,” said Bob Satawake, husband of U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster during a June 2 interview with a Dominican radio station. “Obviously the embassy here in Santo Domingo is going to participate in this initiative.”

An estimated 180,000 people on Friday are expected to take part in the annual Pride parade in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Conchita Wurst, winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, and gay Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are among those who are expected to march in the parade that organizers say will highlight transgender rights. Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer is also in Tel Aviv where she is attending a global advocacy conference organized by A Wider Bridge, a group that seeks to strengthen ties between LGBT American Jews and their Israeli counterparts, and Aguda, a local advocacy group.

Beyer told the Washington Blade on Tuesday in an email that Tel Aviv “is bedecked throughout with rainbow flags,” including one at the U.S. Embassy. She said the ruling from Israel’s National Labor Court earlier in the day that said gender identity must be included in the country’s Employment (Equal Opportunity) Law was “perfectly timed to advance trans equality, the theme of this year’s Pride.”

ShanghaiPRIDE, which is China’s oldest and largest Pride celebration, will hold a series of panels and other events from Friday through June 21. A march is not scheduled to take place, but organizers say they hope to raise awareness around family issues and other LGBT-specific topics.

“To achieve a healthier and happier life for our peers, we aim to increase the visibility of LGBTQ people within society,” ShanghaiPRIDE Outreach Manager Thorben Li Leilei told the Blade on Tuesday.

Advocates in Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking archipelago that is roughly 350 miles off the African coast in the Atlantic Ocean, later this month will hold a series of events in the city of Mindelo. The Triangle Foundation, a Spanish LGBT advocacy group, has sponsored the Cape Verdean Pride commemorations for a third time.

“Triangle is happy to be able to support African LGBT communities,” Miguel Ángel Sánchez Rodríguez of the Triangle Foundation told the Blade on Tuesday.

The Shui Tuix Foundation and other independent Cuban LGBT rights groups and advocates are scheduled to hold a series of Pride-related events in Havana. These include a march from the Cuban capital to the Malecón, an oceanfront promenade, where organizers will read a statement about the normalization of relations between the Communist country and the U.S.

“The re-establishment of relations between the governments of the U.S. and Cuba motivates us to seek more democracy for our community, and perhaps an improvement in the respect of our rights on the part of the government of the Castro,” said the Cuban advocacy groups in a press release.

Moscow authorities again ban Pride

Advocates in several countries who have tried to organize Pride events have faced challenges that include violence and even arrest.

Moscow police on May 30 arrested more than a dozen activists and protesters during an unauthorized Pride march. Authorities in the Russian capital a few weeks earlier announced they had once again banned the event that took place for the first time in 2006.

Nine police officers in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev were injured on June 6 when clashes broke out between them and nationalists during a Pride march. Authorities in the South Korean capital of Seoul have banned a similar event that had been scheduled to take place on June 28.

Christian groups had protested the Pride march before the announcement.

“We’d like to show the world that we are enjoying our lives despite existing social oppression,” Ho Rim, a South Korean LGBT rights advocate, told the Washington Post.

Anti-Globalists, a Latvian group that opposes LGBT rights, has threatened to block EuroPride, a pan-European Pride event that is slated to take place in Riga, the capital of the former Soviet republic, from June 15-21.

Special U.S. Envoy to Promote Global LGBT Rights Randy Berry, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer and European Parliament Vice President Ulrike Lunacek are among those who are scheduled to take part in EuroPride. Kaspars Zalitis of Mozaika, a Latvian LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade on Tuesday that he remains confident the event will take place as scheduled.

“We still might face some legal challenges,” he noted. “But we are optimistic that this will be a historic event not just for Latvia, but also for Europe and beyond.”

The National Center for Sexual Education, a group that Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, directs, last month organized a series of events throughout Cuba that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Maykel González Vivero, a blogger and independent LGBT rights advocate, told the Blade during an interview in his apartment in the city of Sagua la Grande on May 17 — the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — that Mariela Castro and her organization do not commemorate Pride in June because they feel such celebrations are “capitalistic.” Shui Tuix Foundation President Navid Fernández Cabrera also criticized the Cuban president’s daughter over the way he feels that she promotes the Communist island’s LGBT rights record abroad.

“The country’s image is that it is a paradise for the gay community,” Fernández told the Blade during a May 14 interview at his Havana apartment. “[Mariela Castro] is supposedly the defender of the gay rights movement in Cuba.”

Saghi Ghahraman of the Iranian Queer Organization, a Toronto-based group that advocates on behalf of LGBT Iranians, told the Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview from the Canadian city that many of her counterparts in her homeland “don’t have the slightest chance to take part in Pride events. She said she and her colleagues will attend Pride Toronto later this month with them in mind.

“We’re attending Pride on behalf of them,” said Ghahraman.

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

1 Comment
  • Good to hear that at least in the Ukraine police defended GBLT marchers and arrested the thugs that attacked them unlike in Russia where it’s GLBT that get arrested after being victimized by the thugs who get away without paying the consequences.
    Glad China allows GLBT to have some freedoms although they can’t march. Would be great if marriage equality became reality there.

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