July 31, 2016 at 7:44 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Syrian refugee leads Vancouver Pride parade

Ahmed "Danny" Ramadan, Lebanon, gay news, Washington Blade

Ahmed “Danny” Ramadan was the grand marshal of the annual Vancouver Pride Parade on July 31, 2016 (Photo courtesy Ramadan)

A gay Syrian who received refugee status in Canada in 2014 was the grand marshal of the annual Vancouver Pride Parade on Sunday.

Ahmed “Danny” Ramadan rode in the back of a BMW that had his name written on it. He also marched with his colleagues at Qmunity, a Vancouver-based organization that provides support and services to the area’s LGBT community.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his family also marched in the Pride parade.

“It was a great celebration and I’m very proud I got to be part of it,” Ramadan told the Washington Blade on Sunday. “I felt a lot of love and support from folks I don’t know who were cheering me and showing me how welcomed I am here.”

Ramadan was born into a Sunni Muslim family that lived in a middle-class neighborhood of the Syrian capital of Damascus.

He told the Blade in a previous interview that his father, who backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, beat him and threatened him with a gun after he came out as gay when he was 17. Ramadan said he was locked inside his bedroom for three days before his sisters helped him escape.

Ramadan fled to Lebanon in 2012 after Syrian authorities detained him for several hours at Damascus International Airport. The Canadian government granted him and his boyfriend refugee status less than two years later.

“Pride turned into a celebration and I’m happy that this is how folks celebrate diversity here,” Ramadan told the Blade on Sunday. “It’s important to remember that Pride started as a riot and to always carry that knowledge in our hearts as we march. There is a long way to go until everyone in the LGBTQ+ community finds equality.”

The so-called Islamic State has reportedly executed dozens of men in Syria and Iraq who has been accused of sodomy. The Sunni militant group routinely posts pictures of these executions — which include throwing men from buildings as hundreds of people watch — online.

Subhi Nahas, a gay Syrian refugee who now lives in the U.S., was a grand marshal for the annual New York City’s Pride Parade that took place last month in Manhattan. The annual event took place two weeks after a gunman killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

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

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