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Georgia’s first Pride parade postponed

Organizers joined anti-Russia protests in country’s capital

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Organizers of Georgia’s first Pride parade that was to have taken place in the country’s capital of Tbilisi on June 22, 2019, have postponed the event. (Photo via Twitter)

Organizers of Georgia’s first Pride parade that was scheduled to have taken place in the country’s capital on Saturday have postponed it.

Giorgi Tabagari, co-founder of Tbilisi Pride, on Twitter said he and other parade organizers decided to postpone the event in order to join protests against Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov, who spoke at the Georgian Parliament on Thursday, and a police crackdown against protesters who tried to storm the building that reportedly left more than 240 people injured.

“Due to (the) current political situation and ongoing protests in Tbilisi, our team had to postpone the march which was planned tomorrow,” wrote Tabagari on Friday. “We have joined the protest at this point and will march once situation calms down.”

The announcement parade comes less than a week after the Washington Blade reported the Eurasian country’s ombudswoman asked organizers to cancel a nearly week-long series of Pride events. Hooligans also threatened organizers and a Georgian millionaire called for groups to organize against those who had planned to participate in Pride.

“We welcome the decision by the organizers of Tbilisi Pride to postpone the ‘March for Dignity’ planned for 22 June 2019,” said a statement the U.N., the E.U. and the U.S. Embassy in Georgia issued.

The Austrian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish and British embassies were also signatories.

“Participation in peaceful demonstrations of this sort is an expression of every person’s fundamental human right to freedom of expression and assembly,” it reads. “However, amidst real concerns about safety and security in the current context, we find the LGBTI+ community’s decision highly commendable.”

A State Department spokesperson on Friday referred the Blade to Tbilisi Pride organizers’ statement when asked to comment on the parade’s postponement. The spokesperson added “senior U.S. officials have and will continue to urge the government of Georgia to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms for all — including LGBTI individuals.”

“In Georgia and around the world, the United States stands up and speaks out against violence and severe discrimination against vulnerable individuals and groups, including religious, ethnic, or national minorities, persons with disabilities and LGBTI individuals,” said the spokesperson. “Governments have an obligation to ensure that everyone can freely enjoy universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

The parade was to have taken place less than a week after State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus defended a policy that prohibits U.S. embassies from displaying Pride flags on official flag poles. Dozens of Democrats and at least one Republican, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), have called for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Trump over his involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Tbilisi Pride organizers have not said when the postponed parade will take place.

Alex Cooper contributed to this story.

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Virginia

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate opposes marriage equality

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group has endorsed Youngkin

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Glenn Youngkin (Blade file photo)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state. “I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018. Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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Politics

California Rep. Eric Swalwell on death threats from Tucker Carlson fans

“He does this because he knows that his followers will be inspired & radicalized & then aim their vitriol at whoever he is attacking”

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Los Angeles Blade file screenshot Fox News

WASHINGTON – Appearing on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, on Friday, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, (D) who represents California 15th which covers most of eastern Alameda County and part of central Contra Costa County, detailed the death and other threats he receives from fans of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

We receive hundreds of threats. What was specific about this was the caller identified he had just been watching Tucker Carlson. Now, we get a lot of threats that come in as Tucker Carlson attacks me, but this person identified he had just heard from Tucker Carlson. He was now calling my office and then of course dropped a number of racist, sexist, homophobic epithets in the call, and then threatened to kill my entire family,” Swalwell said. “And what is so frustrating about this, Nicole, is that I have personally, eyeball to eyeball, asked Tucker Carlson not to lie about me on his show because of this effect.”

I’ve even in the last couple months sent a text message to him telling him when he lies about me on his show it results in death threats to me, my wife, and our family. And when he had people protesting outside his house just a couple years ago I went on Twitter despite not agreeing with almost anything he says and I said that that’s wrong to go to his house and terrify his wife in the way that that happened. But he does this because he knows that his followers will be inspired and radicalized and then aim their vitriol at whoever he is attacking that day,” the congressman added.

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Southern-Central Asia

Petition urges White House to protect LGBTQ Afghans

Taliban regained control of country on Aug. 15

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

WASHINGTON — More than 10,000 people have signed a petition that urges the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans who remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country.

The Human Rights Campaign; the Council for Global Equality; Immigration Equality; Rainbow Railroad; the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and the International Refugee Assistance Project on Friday presented to the White House the petition that urges the administration to adopt “a 10-point action plan … to expedite and ease the refugee and asylum process for LGBTQI Afghans.”

The same six groups last month urged the Biden administration to adopt a plan that would “prioritize the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people, and ensure that any transitory stay in a third country is indeed temporary by expediting refugee processing.” The groups, among other things, asked the White House to “speak out forcefully against human rights abuses by the new Taliban regime and any increased targeting of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, and use existing mechanisms to sanction and hold accountable perpetrators of human rights abuse.”

The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Aug. 15 and regained control of the country.

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute people if it were to return to power in Afghanistan.

Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the other groups that have continued their efforts to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans since American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. Some of the 50 Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country are LGBTQ.

“We reiterate our call for President Biden to adopt the 10-point policy plan which will expedite and ease the refugee process for LGBTQI Afghans,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release. “The 10,000+ people who signed our petition have demonstrated that they want the United States, long a beacon of refuge for those fleeing persecution, to take action to protect LGBTQI Afghans—a vulnerable group who risk oppression, even death, simply for who they are or who they love. Now is the time for action.”

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