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In-person Pride events to take place around the world

Activists have scheduled marches, galas, forums

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Thousands of people attended the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance on June 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance)

Activists around the world are planning to hold in-person Pride events this year.

Organizers of Tijuana GLBTI Pride in the Mexican border city say a decrease in coronavirus cases has allowed them to hold a march on June 19. Participants will be required to wear masks and socially distance. Tijuana GLBTI Pride organizers also plan to distribute condoms at a gay bar in downtown Tijuana.

“The GLBT community and owners of entertainment venues and establishments in the region have also suffered a blow with the arrival of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus a year ago,” wrote Tijuana GLBTI Pride Coordinator Lorenzo Herrera on his group’s website, noting the decrease in coronavirus cases in Mexico’s Baja California state has allowed businesses to reopen. “It allows for the reopening of establishments like bars and cantinas.”

“This new normality and opening of spaces allowed us to resume planning for the 2021 Pride march,” added Herrera.

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration, a Minnesota-based organization that works with LGBTQ migrants and refugees around the world, and Alight on June 13 will hold a digital Pride brunch on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border with Jardín de las Mariposas, a shelter in Tijuana for LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers. Frenchie Davis is among those who are scheduled to perform at ORAM’s #RefugeePride Gala on June 17.

Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko, an LGBTQ advocacy group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is scheduled to hold a Pride event in the city of Bukavu on June 26.

The Spanish Embassy in D.C. commissioned London Kaye, a Los Angeles-based artist, to create a crocheted mural that features Federico García Lorca, a gay Spanish poet and playwright who Spanish Nationalists executed in 1936 shortly after the country’s Civil War began. The mural is currently displayed above the entrance to the Spanish ambassador’s former home in Columbia Heights.

Tbilisi Pride on July 5 is scheduled to hold a march in the Georgian capital. The group on its Facebook page says the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ Georgians.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gay people experience oppression and discrimination on a daily basis,” it notes. “Hate groups are constantly trying to stir up hostility in society towards us. By weaponizing homophobia, these groups try to sow discord and divide society or social movements, to discredit various just demands. The state often leaves the criminal activities of violent groups and their leaders unpunished, thereby normalizing violence against (LGBTQ) people and, at the same time hinders development and justice-oriented social, political and economic change.”

“We need to make our voices heard by our family, friends, colleagues, fellow citizens and the state,” proclaimed Tbilisi Pride.

WorldPride 2021, which will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden, from Aug. 12-22, will feature both virtual and in-person events. Uganda Pride will hold their Pride events in October, as opposed to this month, because the government has imposed a partial lockdown in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Thousands attend Jerusalem Pride march

Israel is among the countries in which in-person Pride events have already taken place.

Thousands of people attended the annual Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance on June 3.

The in-person event took place less than two weeks after a cease fire between Israel and Hamas militants that govern the Gaza Strip took effect. The future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and tensions over the eviction of several Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood also loomed large over the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance.

Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education last month held a series of virtual events that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, who is the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana announced a bill that would amend the country’s family code will be introduced in Parliament in July. Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba, reported Mariela Castro said this year’s IDAHOBiT events are part of the aforementioned effort and will help make Cubans more receptive to LGBTQ rights.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” Mariela Castro told reporters on May 4.

U.S. embassies fly Pride flags

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power are among the American officials who have publicly acknowledged Pride month.

Blinken in April said U.S. embassies and consulates can once again fly the Pride flag.

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas this month is flying the Pride flag for the first time. Alexus D’Marco, an activist who is a member of LGBTI Bahamas, a Bahamian advocacy group, on Monday referred to Eleanor Roosevelt when she discussed the impact the gesture has had on LGBTQ Bahamians.

“It’s not in protest,” D’Marco told the Blade. “It’s a lead by example effort that may be saying, yes we admit that we may have flaws as countries and in some cases former colonists, but we do this to dissuade you from making the same mistake of thinking that some are better than others. It’s an open invitation to join the changing world, for us the older generations to listen to the voice of the youth who are telling us very clearly and loudly that the future they envision is not one of stigma and discrimination, instead it is one with human rights and dignity for all in a land that is sustainable and full of that ‘the-ness.'”

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US ambassador to UN calls for repeal of criminalization laws

Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke at U.N. LGBTI Core Group event

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U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department; public domain)

United States Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield is among those who participated in a Wednesday event on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that highlighted efforts to decriminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

Thomas-Greenfield in her remarks during the largely virtual U.N. LGBTI Core Group event noted consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in more than 70 countries.

“For millions of people it is illegal for them to be who they are, to love who they love. We need to repeal and eliminate these laws,” she said. “For our part, the United States is using our diplomacy, our foreign assistance and every tool we have to protect human rights, empower civil society and support local LGBTQI movements.”

The U.S. is one of 35 countries that are members of the Core Group.

Wednesday’s event also highlighted efforts to decriminalize transgender people and repeal laws that specifically target them.

“We need more countries to join this committed group,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “Together, let’s do everything we can to protect human rights and promote equality for all.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo; Nepalese Ambassador to the U.N. Amrit Bahadur Rai; New Zealand Ambassador to the U.N. Craig Hawke; Australian Permanent U.N. Representative Mitch Fifield; Brazilian Ambassador to the U.N. Rolando Costa Filho; Canadian Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Keith Rae; Assistant U.N. Secretary General for Strategic Coordination Volker Türk; Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister Santiago Cafiero; Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Tom de Bruijn; Japanese Foreign Minister Jun Shimmi; Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide; Salvadoran Foreign Affairs Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco; Costa Rican Vice Multicultural Affairs Minister Christian Guillermet-Fernández; Finnish Foreign Affairs Ministry Johanna Sumuvuori; Nick Herbert of the British House of Lords; European Union Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli; Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Ann Linde; Icelandic Foreign Affairs Minister Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson; Maltese Equality, Research, Innovation and the Coordination of Post COVID-19 Strategy Minister Owen Bonnici; Mexican Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights Undersecretary Martha Delgado; Italian Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Benedetto Della Vedova; Chilean Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Carolina Valdivia; German MP Michael Roth; Irish State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora Minister Colm Brophy and Danish Development and Nordic Cooperation Minister Flemming Møller Mortensen participated in the event that Reuters U.N. Bureau Chief Michelle Nichols emceed.

Acting OutRight Action International Executive Director Maria Sjödin and activists from Bhutan, Botswana, Guyana, Mozambique, Angola, Panamá and India took part. Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the independent U.N. expert on LGBTQ issues, and Nikkie de Jager, a Dutch U.N. goodwill ambassador known as NikkieTutorials who is trans, also participated.

“Decriminalization is a very basic demand,” said Sjödin. “Given how many countries have these laws on the books, it is still a priority.”

Herbert, who is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s LGBTQ envoy, noted consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in 35 of the Commonwealth’s 54 countries. Herbert also announced the U.K. will give an additional $2.75 million to “support LGBT+ individuals in Commonwealth countries, including to those seeking to address outdated legislation that discriminates against women, girls and LGBT+ individuals.”

“We are clear that tackling discrimination is only one part of the issue,” said Herbert. “We must encourage countries as well to put in place laws that protect their LGBTI citizens going forward.”

President Biden in February signed a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. The decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relation is one of the White House’s five global LGBTQ rights priorities.

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Immigration Equality condemns deportation of Haitian migrants, asylum seekers

Prominent activist found dead in Port-au-Prince home in 2019

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Hurricane Matthew, gay news, Washington Blade
Hurricane Matthew damage near Jérémie, Haiti in 2016. Immigration Equality has condemned the deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers from the U.S. (Photo courtesy of Reginald Dupont/Fondation SEROvie)

Immigration Equality on Wednesday sharply criticized the Biden administration over the deportation of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers from the U.S.

“Over 10,000 Haitian migrants and asylum seekers are waiting at America’s doorstep, but the Biden administration won’t uphold their basic right to ask for protection,” said Immigration Equality Legal Director Bridget Crawford in a press release. “This is blatantly illegal and morally reprehensible. Many of these people are asylum seekers who face grave danger if returned to Haiti. They have traveled thousands of miles to escape a country torn apart by devastating earthquakes and political turmoil.”

The White House in recent days has been struggling to respond to the influx of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers in Del Rio, Texas, which is across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Pictures of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing and whipping Haitians have sparked widespread outrage.

Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most migrants and asylum seekers because of the pandemic, remains in place. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has begun to deport Haitian migrants and asylum seekers from Texas.

Immigration Equality in its press release notes Charlot Jeudy, a member of Kouraj, a Haitian LGBTQ rights group, was found dead inside his home in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital, in 2019.

Violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity remain commonplace in Haiti.

President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination on July 7 and an 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14 that left scores of people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands of others have caused additional turmoil in Haiti, which is the Western Hemisphere’ poorest country.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas in 2010 killed an estimated 200,000 people.

Fondation SEROvie, a Haitian HIV/AIDS service organization, contributed to relief efforts after Hurricane Matthew caused widespread damage on the country’s Tiburon Peninsula in 2016. Last month’s earthquake struck in the same area.

“For LGBTQ people in particular, expulsion means returning to a society that rejects them. They are frequent targets of violence and sexual assault, including by the police,” said Crawford. “The country is fundamentally unsafe for the queer and transgender community.”

“Instead of welcoming Haitian asylum seekers as the U.S. should, the Biden administration is sending them back to life-threatening conditions,” added Crawford. “We call on the administration to halt the deportation flights immediately and end Title 42 in its entirety. The disturbing images of border agents on horseback chasing down terrified Haitian migrants go against the administration’s professed ideals. Shame on the Biden administration for embracing this xenophobic and illegal Trump-era policy and mistreating vulnerable migrants.”

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Biden highlights LGBTQ rights in UN General Assembly speech

President noted crackdowns in Chechnya, Cameroon

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President Biden addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021. (Screen capture via NBC News)

President Biden on Tuesday in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly spoke in support of LGBTQ rights around the world.

“We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear,” he said.

Biden in his speech specifically cited anti-LGBTQ crackdowns in Chechnya and Cameroon. He spoke after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, addressed the General Assembly.

“As we pursue diplomacy across the board, the United States will champion the democratic values that go to the very heart of who we are as a nation and a people: freedom, equality, opportunity and a belief in the universal rights of all people,” said Biden.

The White House earlier this year released a memorandum that committed the U.S. to promoting LGBTQ rights abroad.

The decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations and protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers are two of the administration’s five priorities in its efforts to promote LGBTQ rights abroad. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in their country after the Taliban regained control of it, but it remains unclear how many of them the U.S. has been able to evacuate.

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