August 10, 2018 at 9:53 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Danish activists to boycott U.S. ambassador’s Pride month reception
Copenhagen Pride Week, gay news, Washington Blade

Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo by Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons)

Activists in Denmark are planning to boycott the U.S. Embassy’s annual Pride month celebration over President Trump’s LGBTI rights record.

U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands is scheduled to host the reception at her official residence in Copenhagen on Aug. 15. Media reports indicate the organization behind Copenhagen Pride Week and LGBT Danmark have announced they will not attend.

“We don’t want to rubber-stamp the Trump administration’s backward-looking rolling back of LBGT rights by our presence,” LGBT Danmark spokesperson Peder Holk Svendsen told the Copenhagen Post.

Then-U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford, who is gay, was extremely popular among the country’s LGBTI community. His Pride month reception was among the most popular events during Copenhagen Pride Week.

Gifford, who is running for Congress in his native Massachusetts, told the Washington Blade in a statement that “it was the honor of my lifetime to represent my country overseas, celebrating the fundamental American values of inclusivity, tolerance and equality and all the progress we’ve made on LGBT rights.”

“I am absolutely horrified by Donald Trump’s assault on our core values and his administration’s shameful positions on LGBT issues,” he added. “I’m running for Congress because I saw not just my rights, but the rights of many Americans, under threat, and I knew I needed to step up my level of service to defend the progress we’ve made together.”

Gifford did not specifically comment on calls to boycott the Pride reception.

“As a diplomat, I’m not going to comment publicly on the work of my successor besides saying I believe so deeply in the strength of the U.S.-Danish relationship and the bonds between the American and Danish people,” he said. “Despite this difficult chapter in American history, I hope these bonds only grow stronger over time.”

The embassy in a statement to the Blade said it is “disappointed to learn that some members of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) organizations have declined to attend the Pride reception hosted by the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.”

“The U.S. Department of State has and will continue to advance and advocate for the human rights and equal rights of LGBTI persons and the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen has made its support for and participation in Pride activities a cornerstone of its engagement over the years,” reads the statement.  “This has not changed. Our doors have been open to the LGBTI community and we remain open to dialogue in pursuit of our shared objectives, including equal rights and equal opportunity for all.”

“The United States stands firmly with the people of Denmark as they exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and we look forward to continuing the open and honest dialogue we have developed over the years,” it adds. “We wish everyone a safe and happy Pride here in Copenhagen.”

The U.S. continues to publicly support LGBTI rights abroad, in spite of the Trump administration’s domestic record.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who is openly gay, late last month marched in Berlin’s Pride parade. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan was among the U.S. officials who participated in a global LGBTI rights conference that took place in Vancouver, Canada, earlier this week.

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

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