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D.C. loses bid for 2025 World Pride to Taiwan

Event will be held in Asia for first time

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The 2019 World Pride Parade in New York. InterPride, the organization that organizes the event, on Nov. 13, 2021, announced World Pride 2025 will take place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

InterPride, the coalition of LGBTQ Pride organizations from throughout the world, announced early Saturday that it has selected the group Kaohsiung Pride in Taiwan over D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance to host World Pride 2025.

Kaohsiung Pride and Capital Pride Alliance represented the only two cities that submitted bids to host the international Pride event, which draws thousands of worldwide visitors to the host city.

“With this monumental vote by InterPride members, a World Pride will be held in East Asia for the first time,” according to a statement released by InterPride. “The members of InterPride voted on the host of World Pride 2025 over four days during the 2021 General Meeting and World Conference,” the statement says.

“More than 300 member organizations worldwide participated in the voting process, workshops, plenary sessions, regional and board meetings during the 8-day virtual event,” the statement notes.

In an announcement on Sept. 21 that it had submitted a bid to host World Pride 2025, Capital Pride Alliance said the event, among other things, would commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

“The Capital Pride Alliance congratulates Kaohsiung Pride on being awarded the opportunity to produce World Pride 2025,” said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos in a statement released by InterPride.

“We extend to them our heartfelt best wishes for a successful event,” Bos said. “Capital Pride will use the next three years to continue with our long-standing plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of pride in Washington, D.C., in June 2025,” he said in the statement.

The decision to select Taiwan over D.C. for World Pride 2025 comes five years after D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico, lost their respective bids to host the 2022 Gay Games, the quadrennial international LGBTQ sports event. Like InterPride, the Federation of Gay Games, the U.S.-based group that organizes the Gay Games, said in its 2017 announcement that the selection of Hong Kong represented the first time that event would be held in Asia.

Gay Games organizers in Hong Kong have since announced they have postponed the event for one year, to November 2023, due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hong Kong organizers last week said plans for the event were moving forward with support from corporate sponsors and LGBTQ groups despite a crackdown by China against human rights activists in Hong Kong over the past two years that has drawn international condemnation by human rights advocates.

China has long claimed that Taiwan is part of its territory and has suggested it might take military action to “reunite” the island with China, a development that has led to tension between China and the U.S., a committed Taiwan ally.

“From Rome to Jerusalem to London to Toronto to Madrid to New York City to Copenhagen, World Pride has been a worldwide event since 1997,” InterPride said in its statement announcing the event would take place in Taiwan in 2025. The statement says Sydney, Australia, will be hosting the next World Pride set for 2023.

“Bringing World Pride to this region [Taiwan] for the first time will create a significant impact to the much-needed visibility and awareness of human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community there while providing the ability for millions more to participate from surrounding countries and territories, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia,” Julian Sanjivan, InterPride’s co-president, said in the statement.

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Anti-LGBTQ group claims Va. marriage amendment repeal will legalize polygamy

State Sen. Adam Ebbin rejected claim during committee hearing

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census, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

A representative of an anti-LGBTQ group on Tuesday said the repeal of Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would pave the way for the legalization of polygamy in the state.

“There are some, at least, very legitimate concerns about whether this would actually legalize polygamy, among other forms of marriage,” said Family Foundation of Virginia Legal Counsel Josh Hetzler.

Hetzler made the comment during a Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing on state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Ebbin, who is the only openly gay member of the Virginia Senate, in response to the claim noted polygamy is a crime under Virginia and federal law.

“I take offense to the Family Foundation’s characterization that this would allow polygamy,” said Ebbin. “This has nothing to do with polygamy, what this has to do with is equality.”

Carol Schall, who, along with her wife, Mary Townley, joined a federal lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Virginia, and outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck are among those who testified in support of the resolution. The committee approved it by a 10-5 vote margin.

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly last year approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Ebbin earlier this month told the Washington Blade he remains “hopeful” the resolution will pass in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Prospects that the resolution will pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates are far less certain.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin before his election reiterated his opposition to marriage equality. Youngkin, however, stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

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Loudoun County removes LGBTQ book from school libraries

Superintendent overrules committee that called for retaining ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’

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A Loudoun County, Va., School Board committee on Jan. 13 voted to uphold a decision by Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler to remove from the school system’s high school libraries a controversial LGBTQ-themed book called “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”

The book is an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe that contains descriptions and comic book style drawings of sexual acts that e uses to tell the story of eir journey and struggle in discovering eir gender identity.

Although the book has received an American Library Association award for its relevance to young adults, critics in school systems throughout the country have said its sexually explicit content is not suitable for school libraries.  

The action by the School Board committee came after Ziegler asked a separate school system committee to review the book to determine if its content was appropriate for school libraries. Loudoun Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard told the Washington Post the committee, in a split vote, recommended that the book be retained in high school libraries.

According to Byard, Ziegler overruled the committee’s recommendation and ordered that the book be removed from the libraries. Byard said that decision was then appealed to a School Board appeals committee, which voted 3-0 to uphold Ziegler’s decision.

The decision by Ziegler to remove the book from school libraries took place about two months after Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools officials decided to return “Gender Queer” and another LGBTQ-themed book called “Lawn Boy” to their high school libraries after temporarily pulling the two books in response to complaints by some parents and conservative activists.

Two committees appointed by Fairfax school officials to review the two books that consisted of educators, school officials, parents, and students concluded that, while the books contained sexually explicit content, it did not cross the line as pornography or depictions of pedophilia as some opponents claimed.

“The decision reaffirms Fairfax County Public Schools’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” a statement released by Fairfax school officials explaining their decision to retain the two books in their libraries said.

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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