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Activists demand Congress ends anti-trans policies at Capitol rally

“Our trans siblings deserve freedom, dignity, and access to care,” a statement released by rally organizers says

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The Trans Justice Rally was held on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – About 60 people turned out Wednesday night, Nov. 15, on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol for a Trans Justice Rally in which participants demanded that Congress enact transgender supportive policies rather than propose, as some Republican lawmakers have, banning health care services for trans youth.

The event was organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the ACLU, and other supportive organizations and activists.

LaLa B. Zannell, a trans activist and an official with the ACLU of New York who served as moderator at the rally, said the health and safety of the transgender community was being threatened by proposed state and federal legislation restricting and, in some cases, imposing criminal penalties against doctors and other healthcare providers who provide gender-related medical services for both teenage and adult trans people.

Zannell called on those attending the rally to shout out several messages to lawmakers at the Capitol, including members of the U.S. Senate, which was in session at the time of the rally.

“What do we want?” she shouted. “Medical liberation!” rally participants shouted back repeatedly.

Among those speaking at the rally was Anne Merica, who identified herself as the proud mother of her teenage transgender son, Matteo, who stood next to his mother and said he is a senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. Merica said she was hopeful that lawmakers would end efforts to pass legislation hostile to trans people like her son and will instead provide support for the trans community.

“Congress needs to do its job to protect our kids,” she said.

Diego Sanchez, National Director of Advocacy, Policy & Partnerships for the national LGBTQ parents organization PFLAG, told the rally he too was hopeful that members of Congress will support rather than act against the health and well-being of transgender people. Sanchez was among the first transgender people to come out as trans while working as a congressional staff person. He worked for more than 10 years on the staff of gay former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

The Trans Justice Rally was organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, the ACLU, and other supportive organizations and activists.
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Others who spoke at the rally included Pony Knowles, director of National Campaigns for the ACLU and Allen Morris, policy director at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

 “Our trans siblings deserve freedom, dignity, and access to care,” a statement released by rally organizers says. “Over 90,000 trans people are losing health care many trans people need,” the statement says. “Others sneak bans on essential care into the federal budgets that our tax dollars pay for!” it says.

“We must come together to make sure that every member of Congress hears our voices,” the statement concludes. “We stand united to protect healthcare for trans people everywhere.”

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Downey Official Who Banned Pride Flag Elected to Lead Influential National Latino Political Group

MassResistance and NALEO: Claudia Frometa’s Presidency Raises LGBTQ+ Concerns

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Defiantly raising the Rainbow Flag in Downey after Council Votes 3-2 to Ban It On City Property

LAS VEGAS, NV — DEVELOPING ARTICLE — Claudia Frometa, a Downey city councilmember who ardently defended her vote to end the city’s policy of flying the rainbow flag during Pride Month, has been elected president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO).

NALEO represents more than 6,800 Latino elected and appointed officials and is hugely influential in national politics, recently led by out gay California State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who was President of the group in 2020.

Frometa’s election has raised concerns among LGBTQ Latino politicians, including Downey’s openly gay Mayor Mario Trujillo, who opposed the flag ban.

Frometa opposed the Mayor by voting in favor (a 3-2 vote) of restricting flag flying on city property to only U.S., California and prisoners-of-war flags. The decision reversed a 2021 policy that allowed the Pride flag to be displayed throughout June.

Trujillo has maintained that the vote was part of an organized political attack on the LGBTQ+ community, lobbied for by MassResistance, an anti-LGBTQ+ group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

MassResistance has allegedly played a role in opposing and, in some cases reversing LGBTQ supportive programs policies in schools across the nation.

The vote shook the community and sparked a regional backlash, prompting Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn to organize an LGBTQ+ Pride flag-raising ceremony outside the Los Angeles County Office of Education in Downey on June 3.

LA County Department of Education defiantly raises Pride in Downey. (Photo by Bryan Chan for LA County Board of Supervisors)

Frometa denied anti-LGBTQ sentiment motivated her vote. 

At a June 11 council meeting, she said, “For any individual to say we are anti-LGBTQ community is incorrect,” citing continued funding for the city’s pride festival.

Supporters of the new flag policy argued that restricting it to official state flags promotes neutrality.

The Los Angeles County LGBTQ+ Elected Officials association expressed disappointment, stating the Pride flag promotes inclusivity, especially for LGBTQ+ youth.

Other Southern California areas have implemented similar flag restrictions, including Huntington Beach, Temecula and Redlands.

NALEO plays a critical role in Latino participation in American politics. As its new president, Frometa will lead efforts in leadership development, policy research and advocacy for Latino issues.

Some LGBTQ+ advocates worry Frometa’s election could indicate gains by anti-LGBTQ+ groups within Latino political leadership.

An unnamed LGBTQ+ politician from Downey told the Los Angeles Blade, “Her gaslighting will not be forgotten. She tore our flag down after being lobbied by our enemies and now blames us for being angry that she is attempting to erase us with the facade of neutrality.”

This breaking story will be updated.

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Rollins’ campaign- more than gunning for anti-LGBTQ Rep. Calvert

In this election cycle, the Democratic challenger believes he is better positioned to win the seat, which could tip control of the U.S. House

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Will Rollins and his partner, Paolo at the 2022 Palm Springs Pride Parade. (Photo courtesy of Will Rollins for Congress)


RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Two years ago, openly gay prosecutor Will Rollins launched his first bid for public office and nearly defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Ken Calvert, who has represented California’s 41st Congressional District since the presidential administration of George H.W. Bush.

In this election cycle, the Democratic challenger believes he is even better positioned to win the seat, which could tip control of the U.S. House of Representatives to his party now that Republicans have only a feeble five-member majority in the chamber.

And if accurate proxies can be found in the results of recent polls, quarterly fundraising metrics, and extra muscle deployed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, it appears Rollins’s confidence is shared by critical masses of voters, donors, and party leaders.

On the one hand, Rollins said he is buoyed by flagging support for his opponent. He argued that instead of working to deliver results for his constituents like “high paying jobs, better wages, and better benefits for workers,” Calvert has instead spent much of his time in Congress helping to fuel costly culture wars and embracing right-wing extremism while enriching himself through “legalized corruption” schemes and undermining the justice system and rule of law.

At the same time, Rollins said that his background in law enforcement, his political orientation as a moderate, and his policy agenda, which includes a focus on popular and often populist reforms, has proven to be a winning formula on the campaign trail from the westernmost parts of Southern California’s Inland Empire to the Colorado Desert town of Palm Springs.

The city, home to a thriving LGBTQ community, helped make the 41st district far purpler after congressional maps were redrawn to include the region in 2022. Rollins said the redistricting helps to explain “part of why people are so bullish on flipping the seat.”

He explained, “Calvert has historically [represented] deep red parts of southern California, and that used to include Murrieta and northern Temecula,” Rollins said. When the new maps were drawn, “he lost those two cities and he gained the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indian Wells, all of which had previously been represented by a Democrat, Raul Ruiz.”

Rollins is well positioned at this point in the race

Congressional Candidate Will Rollins during the 2022 campaign.
(Photo Credit: Rollins for Congress campaign)

Reflecting on his performance in the midterm elections, Rollins noted that 2022 saw higher turnout among Republican voters and lower turnout among Democratic voters, a hurdle made more difficult by the advantages Calvert exercised by virtue of his 32-year incumbency.

By contrast, as a first-time candidate, “when you go from a job as a federal prosecutor, where it’s the antithesis of self-promotion, to suddenly needing to build an entire brand and raise your name I.D. and self promote and campaign, that’s a steep learning curve, and I had basically six months after a primary to do it,” Rollins said.

As November approaches, the presidential race is expected to even out the disparities in voter turnout, and by now Rollins has now spent nearly three years introducing his candidacy and his campaign to residents across CA-41.

For the first time in either cycle, Rollins was ahead of his opponent (by one point) in an internal poll last month that provided respondents with no additional information about the candidates, a sign that “more people are getting to know me, and our name I.D. is increasing, and more people are also hearing our message,” he said.

The Democratic hopeful also noted his campaign out-raised Calvert’s in the third consecutive quarter, Q1 2024, and by more than $1 million, thanks to “voters and our grassroots supporters [who] know that this seat is primed to flip.”

The DCCC seems to agree with their assessment. As one of the organization’s “Red to Blue” candidates, a highly competitive distinction awarded to those with the best odds of unseating Republicans in their districts, Rollins receives “strategic guidance, staff resources, training, and fundraising support” to ensure the best possible odds for his victory in November.

Additional help from the organization responsible for fundraising and organizing on behalf of Democratic House candidates could be decisive in a race as close as this one, but Rollins also stressed his appeal among center and center-right constituents.

Building coalitions in a purple district

For example, the campaign recently secured high-profile endorsements from the likes of Stan Sniff, retired Republican sheriff of Riverside County, and California State Assemblymember Chad Mays, who previously served as the elected Republican leader.

Additionally, last month, the Palm Springs Police Officers Association, which had supported Calvert in 2022, announced it would back Rollins this year. Asked how he managed to win over the organization, Rollins pointed to his ability to relate to law enforcement officers along with his tenacious approach to engaging with the group.

“For cops in Riverside County, having somebody represent them who has worked alongside them, prosecuting MS-13, the Sinaloa Cartel, murderers, rapists, terrorists, that’s really powerful for the line officers who want somebody that understands what it is like every single day to do an important job that they do, putting their lives on the line to keep us safe,” he said.

Rollins added that he was now cowed by the group’s endorsement of his opponent during the midterms and was persistent in reaching out to facilitate a dialogue. “I refuse to give up on trying to persuade people that I would do a better job of representing them in Congress than Ken Calvert, ” as well as his ability to relate to law enforcement officers.

The campaign’s efforts to engage with the Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative LGBT group, were less successful. Rollins said that during both election cycles “we reached out to [chapters located in CA-41] repeatedly, and all of our outreach was ignored.”

It is easy to imagine areas in which the organization could find common ground with the Democratic candidate. Rollins would be the first LGBTQ member of Congress with a law enforcement background, a candidate who has worked for a Republican governor and deliberately engaged with and courted support from other individuals and groups that are right-of-center.

He also questioned why conservative LGBTQ+ Californians would ally themselves with his opponent. “What is Ken Calvert done for you? He’s voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. He’s voted against letting you serve in the military. It makes no sense to go out and support somebody like that.”

Rollins said it seems Log Cabin “is increasingly used by elected Republicans to try to maintain the appearance of support and to conceal some of their actual record on our rights” and their refusal to engage with him is likely a sign of the extent to which the GOP has become mired in partisanship.

Drawing the contrast


Rollins attributes much of his success in winning major endorsements and contributions to the many contrasts voters are seeing between his campaign and his opponent’s, perhaps starting with the professional backgrounds and records on which they are running.

In recent months, Calvert’s campaign has sought to portray Rollins as “soft on crime” because of his opposition to a criminal justice initiative, California’s Proposition 47, but the former prosecutor told the Blade he welcomes the chance to frame their race around these issues.

Rollins pointed out that while his career was spent “going after drug cartels, terrorists and violent criminals across southern California,” Calvert “is somebody who has voted to defund the FBI, who voted to defund Border Patrol, who said that the FBI has been infiltrated, [that] the Department of Justice has become a political weaponization tool,” and “called for dropping charges against people who assaulted the U.S. Capitol” on January 6.

Further undermining Calvert’s effort to position himself as the “law and order” candidate is the encounter he had with police who found him consorting with a sex worker shortly into his first term in Congress, Rollins said.

He added the incident also shows the hypocrisy of his opponent’s legislative record, considering the Republican’s habit of “voting to get the government into our bedrooms and into our exam rooms, and to prevent gay people from getting married, from serving in the military.”

Rollins, who has prosecuted cases involving white collar crime, also accused his rival of exploiting “a system of legalized corruption” in Congress through which members from both parties have been allowed to exploit the powers and privileges of their office for personal financial gain with loopholes and loose oversight protecting them from consequences.

Specifically, he said Calvert has enriched himself to the tune of $20 million over his 17 terms in office “by using earmarks to benefit his own personal real estate investments,” Rollins said, “a form of insider trading in real estate.”

Rollins said that his opponent has earned a reputation for self-dealing and topped lists of the most corrupt members of Congress, with California’s 41st district taking notice. “When people have seen their own rent and gas and groceries skyrocket while their member of Congress makes $20 million since 1992, that is a major red flag for voters,” he said.


The corruption problem is bigger than Calvert, which is why Rollins said he has made reforms and policy solutions in this area a cornerstone of his campaign.

If elected, the Democrat said he will push for “a ban on members trading stock across the board” as well as “a ban on [members] using inside information to benefit their real estate investments” and “a ban on lobbying by former members of Congress.”

Rollins said he will also work to implement term limits for members of Congress and to fix the problems created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling in Citizens United v. FEC (2010), which allowed for unlimited spending by corporations and outside groups on political campaigns.

He said that even more modest reforms like establishing “disclosure rules for members” would go a long way toward mitigating concerns about the flow of dark money “into these competitive congressional races through independent expenditures.”

Each of these proposals “have been tied into our own theme of the campaign around public service and protecting our communities, and law enforcement service versus self-enrichment, self-dealing,” Rollins said. “There’s no movement to police ourselves, and yet that is what the public craves most,” he added.

Polls have long shown the overwhelming popularity of measures designed to improve the functioning of Congress along with mechanisms requiring more accountability and transparency from its members, which should perhaps come as little surprise considering that 66.7 percent of Americans disapprove of the institution according to FiveThirtyEight.

Rollins said audiences from across the political spectrum have responded enthusiastically whenever he has discussed his anti-corruption proposals, whether before a chamber of commerce or a meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Generally speaking, rather than “angertainment and click-bait politics,” most Americans want to see policy solutions aimed at addressing real problems, he said. “They want money out of politics. They want common sense solutions to traffic problems in their district. They want safer streets. They want clean energy. They want term limits.”

Likewise with their elected representatives, Rollins said. Voters “want people in the middle, not necessarily on the far left or the far right,” especially in purple districts where “you can run a successful campaign just being on what I call ‘team normal.'”

“The challenge for Democrats,” particularly those running for competitive seats, “is to make it really clear that the current MAGA majority [in the House] is different from the moderate, regular Republican voters in your district,” Rollins said.

Democrats should embrace populism


One way to reassure conservative-leaning voters is for Democrats to talk openly about the problems that helped facilitate the ascent of Donald Trump and the rise of right-wing populist movements, Rollins said.

Americans, regardless of their politics, are right when they say “government is broken,” or “The system is corrupt,” but solutions are not going to come from elected Republicans, least of all “the former host of Celebrity Apprentice,” Rollins said.

The more Democrats elected to the House who “are focused on those reforms, the better the party will do,” he said. “Because our brand can become an anti-corruption brand, and we should try to to cultivate that as much as possible, because certainly the GOP isn’t about that right now.”

Rollins added, “Right now, there’s only one political party that cares about getting money out of politics,” meaning that Democrats have the opportunity to campaign on an issue that “is supported by 90 percent of Americans.”

When it comes to more divisive matters, “a lot of it is tied to kitchen table issues, and I think that’s where we as a party are our strongest, where we’re talking about how it affects your wallet and why the far-right’s focus on culture wars is actually a massive waste of your tax dollars,” Rollins said.

Of course, it is important to call out the ways in which women, LGBTQ communities, and other groups are harmed when elected Republicans endeavor to restrict their rights, freedoms, and protections, but there is also an opportunity to explain why all Americans suffer as a result, he said.

For instance, after noting that Calvert and Congressional Republicans support “a national [abortion] ban with no exceptions,” along with restrictions on access to the abortion medication mifepristone and measures to make it more difficult for women in the military to access reproductive healthcare, Rollins stressed how these moves could damage the economy and threaten national security.

Likewise with LGBTQ rights. “I would be remiss if I didn’t also state the obvious,” Rollins said, “which is Calvert has one of the most horrible anti-LGBTQ rights voting records of any member in Congress, and started his political career by outing Mark Takano,” the gay congressman who ran against him in 1992 and now represents California’s 39th Congressional District.

Rollins said that when the subject comes up on the campaign trail, “I also talk about the way that his votes don’t just impact the LGBTQ community, because obviously they have hurt our community over the years, but they’ve actually hurt every American.”

For instance, he said, “when you try to make it harder for openly gay people to serve in the U.S. military, you deprive us of qualified pilots, snipers, Marines, Navy SEALs, Arabic linguists,” thereby weakening America’s military and security interests.

Rollins also noted the widely reported story last year about pediatric cardiologist Jake Kleinmahon, who ultimately decided to relocate out of Louisiana with his husband and daughter when conservative state lawmakers in Baton Rouge advanced a slate of anti-LGBTQ bills last year.

Following the family’s move to Long Island, Kleinmahon told CNN the only two remaining physicians in Louisiana who manage heart transplants would be expected to serve the same number of patients as they did before his departure.

“That is going to affect care,” he said, adding that “the absolute hardest part is me saying goodbye to my patients.”

“I believe the kids in Louisiana should have the same world class health care as any other part of the United States.”

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Trump announces Day 1 funding ban for trans supportive schools

Trump turned his aim towards trans people near the end of a rally in Racine, Wisconsin, which was mostly focused on immigration and crime

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Donald Trump campaign rally in Racine, Wisconsin. (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | RACINE, Wis. – On Wednesday, former Republican President Donald Trump turned his aim towards transgender people near the end of a speech in Racine, Wisconsin, which was mostly focused on immigration and crime.

In the speech, he announced that his administration would shut down federal funding for schools that support transgender people, describing these schools as “pushing transgender insanity,” on day one. He also announced his intent to target transgender people in sports. These statements suggest that the candidate may increasingly prioritize targeting transgender people as a key election issue should he win.

Though the first hour of the speech went by without a mention of LGBTQ+ people, Trump turned his attention towards schools abruptly after speaking about crime, where he announced his day one priorities:

“We’re going to be proud of our Capital, we’re going to take care of our Capital. On day one, I will sign a new executive order to cut Federal funding of any school pushing critical race theory, transgender insanity, and other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content onto the lives of our children, and I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or a mask.”

He then turned towards the topic of transgender athletes, claiming that a cisgender woman was injured by a volleyball hit by a transgender woman, which he claimed “came out at her at a speed that which she’s never seen before.” He also took aim at transgender swimmers and weightlifters.

This is not the first time that Donald Trump has spoken about transgender issues. Recently, his campaign slammed President Biden’s proclamation of Transgender Day of Visibility as “blasphemous” for falling on the same day as Easter. Notably, Trans Day of Visibility has been on March 31st for several years, whereas Easter is a moving holiday. Shortly after, he endorsed Pastor Mark Burns in South Carolina, who has called for executions over transgender people.

Recently, in a rally in Michigan, he stated that his day-one priorities included reversing Title IX protections for trans youth. Likewise, last year he released a video stating he intends to target programs promoting gender-affirming care “at any age” and to treat gender-affirming care as child abuse.

Wisconsin has seen an extreme number of anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ+ bills: over 17 bills were proposed in 2024 targeting transgender people. Though many of these bills passed due to Republican legislative majorities, which are forecast to lessen after redistricting this year, all bills were stopped by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who promised to veto bills targeting transgender people in the state:

“I’ll keep my promise to veto any bill making Wisconsin less safe, less inclusive, and less welcoming for LGBTQ people and kids — including this one,” Evers said. “And I’ll be damn proud to do it.”

If Trump is making a play for a political win using transgender issues as a major campaign issue, he may face difficulties. In the 2022 gubernatorial election, Republicans spent money on ads warning voters in Wisconsin of “transgender kindergarteners” and campaigned heavily on the issue.

Evers won his election and thanked voters in his victory speech for standing up for transgender kids. Similarly, millions were spent on ads against Judge Janet Protasiewicz for the Wisconsin Supreme Court over transgender youth. These ads also failed, with the judge outperforming expected results and winning her election.

Nevertheless, the Trump campaign is doubling down on this issue, mirroring the approach of many far-right Republicans in other states. His emphasis on transgender policies in a swing state is a strategic move worth monitoring to see if it solidifies as a cornerstone of his election platform.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Oregon U.S. Senator & trans advocates: renewed Equality Act push

“Our rights & freedoms are on the ballot. I won’t stop fighting until every American can live safely & freely as their authentic self”

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U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) speaks at the Senate Swamp on Tuesday. (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) called for passage of the Equality Act during a press conference on Wednesday alongside Advocates for Trans Equality, who were convened on Capitol Hill for the Trans Day of Empowerment lobby day.

Instead of freedom and the opportunity to participate fully in society, the senator said, “We see hatred, we see harassment, we see homelessness, we see discrimination, and bigotry, and violence, we see unemployment, we even see state-sanctioned attempts to outlaw the very identity of our transgender members of our community.”

“Across America in 2024, in our state legislatures there have been 500 bills drafted to constrain the opportunity for transgender Americans,” Merkley said. “They take on school curriculum, or they ban gender affirming care or otherwise seek to constrain the opportunity to participate in society, by our transgender individuals, in so many different ways.”

“This is wrong,” he said. “This is unacceptable. And we need to therefore pass the Equality Act here in the halls of Congress.”

Merkley, who introduced the latest iteration of the bill in the Senate, noted the legislation would “end discrimination on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, in housing, in public accommodations, in mortgages, in financial transactions, in jury duty — every facet of American society.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who is gay and a co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, is leading the House version of the bill.

However, Merkley said, “our partners on the right side of the aisle have abandoned us. So, the responsibility to pass the Equality Act falls firmly on the Democratic Party.”

The senator called for an end to the Senate filibuster as a means of passing important legislation like the Equality Act.

Separately, in a statement to the Washington Blade, Merkley said, “Voting is the heart of our democracy. As Americans cast their ballots this fall, they have the chance to decide major issues facing our nation — from LGBTQ+ rights to reproductive freedom to so much more.”

“Democracy doesn’t exist unless every eligible voter has equal opportunity to make their voice heard,” he said. “As attacks on our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors continue in the halls of Congress, state legislatures, and in our communities, we must all speak out and vote against this rising hate.”

The senator added, “Our rights and freedoms are on the ballot this year, and I won’t stop fighting until every American can live safely and freely as their authentic self.”

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Political commentary & analysis

Family Research Council falsely claims Pride events ‘scaled back’

“Pride is a time to celebrate all the progress that has been made; especially within sports over the past decade”

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Suzanne Bowdey, editorial director and senior writer at the FRC’s outlet, The Washington Stand, made that claim in a June 4, 2024 online column and in an appearance on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins. (Screenshot/YouTube Washington Watch with Tony Perkins)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Borrowing a tactic from former president and convicted felon Donald Trump, the Family Research Council’s in-house propaganda machine published a lie in hopes it will be accepted by the uninformed as truth. In this case, the false claim is headlined “Major Sports Leagues Dump Pride, as Biden Fights to Fill the Void.” 

Suzanne Bowdey, editorial director and senior writer at the FRC’s outlet, The Washington Stand, made that claim in the form of an online commentary

“…Not just major brands but major leagues are making the conscious decision to sit this month out, desperate to protect their profits from the consumer outrage that’s burned down brands like Bud Light and Target,” she wrote. “…America’s five major sports leagues pushed the LGBT holiday to the sidelines. Unlike past years, the rainbows that used to color the logos of the NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLS for the month are gone.

“Only Major League Baseball dipped its toes into the 2024 Pride waters — a brief experiment that they abandoned when fans went berserk. After its ‘Baseball is everyone’s game’ post on the morning of June 1, users exploded in the comments…” 

Exploded? Well, maybe, as the typical homophobic trolls were met with glitter and glee and anticipation of hate messages so typical for X these days. 

And some others just admired the rainbow logo

To verify Bowdey’s claims, the Los Angeles Blade reached out to media representatives for a wide range of sports leagues and checked the social media pages for the MLB, NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL teams like the Edmonton Oilers, the Philadelphia Flyers and the league’s players association, MLS and NASCAR to see if they had indeed “dumped” Pride.

Nope, although as Pink News reported, there are several NFL teams that did not rebrand their logos with rainbow colors, despite the league’s Instagram post, including Harrison Butker’s Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. 

Contrary to reports in right-wing media, the Green Bay Packers are one of the 20 teams that support Pride Month on its social media, and even the teams that aren’t on board still sell Pride merch on their websites. 

The Blade also reached out to public relations specialist Paulo Senra, who founded PushPull PR nearly a decade ago and for nearly a year has been Canada Soccer’s Chief Communications and Content Officer. Senra called Bowdey’s op-ed “way off base.” 

“Just look to what U.S. soccer is doing with its Pride jerseys. We would know, as we are partners working with them on their Pride game and jersey auction. Any suggestion to the contrary is just simply factually incorrect,” Senra told the Blade. “All the major sports leagues are celebrating Pride this year. One just has to quickly search social media posts to see that leagues and individual teams are sharing their Pride stories and support for the community in many ways from games, donations, parade participation and engaging with training resources we provide.” 

Some examples: 

As the Blade has reported, the NHL reversed course last year and dropped a ban on rainbow-colored Pride tape on players’ hockey sticks to honor the LGBTQ+ community at Pride games, which the NHL celebrates on its website.

The NBA, which could see the Celtics crowned champions tonight, is also a big supporter of Pride, both as a league and through its individual teams, like the Dallas Mavericks.

The league provided the Blade with a statement of its “core values” of equality, respect and inclusion.” 

“As part of our ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, the NBA and WNBA family works in partnership with leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations — including Athlete Ally, GLAAD and GLSEN — to support a variety of programs and initiatives designed to promote LGBTQ+ equality and create a more inclusive environment in our leagues and across sports year-round,” the NBA said in its statement to the Blade. 

“The NBA and WNBA are engaging players, teams, and fans through a variety of activations that celebrate the league’s year-round commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and inspire all to be more inclusive,” said the NBA through its statement. The league also boasts a Pride employees resource team: “Started in 2015, NBA Pride aims to bring together the league office’s LGBTQ+ employees and allies to foster an environment in which LGBTQ+ employees feel empowered and encouraged to bring their whole selves to work each day.  The Pride ERT was the first LGBTQ+ employee resource team in a major professional sports league, and hosts regular programming for league employees.” 

The NBA had a float in last year’s New York City Pride March and in its statement to the Blade, the league promised it will do so again this year. 

“Pride is a time to celebrate all the progress that has been made; especially within sports over the past decade,” said Senra. “We’re proud of work we have done to make the world of sports more inclusive and a safe space for all. Pride is also an opportunity to reflect on opportunities where we can continue to have a lasting impact and continue the work year-round to ensure that anyone connected to sport as a player, fan, coach, official or executive can be a part of it authentically and welcomed by their organization.”

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Project 2025: Far right’s laundry list also targets LGBTQ+ rights

Project 2025  extends to altering the post-WWII international order, challenging established human rights declarations

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Former President Trump speaks at Heritage Foundation event in 2018. (Screenshot/YouTube PBS NewsHour)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A dystopian Handmaid’s Tale style future may soon be underway in the US, should former President Donald Trump and the Republicans seize the upcoming election. Backed by billions of dollars in funding, and over 100 organizations, many of which are tied to hate groups and white nationalists, the far right’s laundry list of goals includes removing all women’s reproductive rights, and firing all LGBTQ+ employees.

This plan is called Project 2025, and it is terrifying for the minority groups it calls out. 

In a recent Zoom discussion attended by the Blade, Wendy Via and Heidi Beirich, co-founders of the advocacy The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE), shed light on the disturbing realities of  the far-right’s manifesto that has gained surprisingly little media coverage thus far. 

Wendy Via President & Co-Founder and Heidi Beirich, PhD Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder (Photo Credit: GPAHE)

Project 2025, led by the far-right Heritage Foundation and supported by over 100 organizations, is a 920-page plan aimed at reshaping America into a more authoritarian and Christian Nationalist state.

The plan threatens to roll back constitutional rights for women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people of color, and proposes centralizing power in the executive branch. Project 2025 aims to radically reshape the U.S. government, systematically dismantling protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, women, people of color, immigrants, and disabled individuals.

One excerpt from Project 2025 reads: “The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (“SOGI”), diversity, equity, and inclusion, gender, gender equality, gender equity, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.”

Project 2025 entails a coordinated attack on people of color and immigrants, proposing measures such as militarizing the border and executing mass deportations. Further proposals include re-assigning control of the FBI to the president, giving the ruler of the free world the power to turn the FBI on anyone not following through on the rules outlines by Project 2025. 

Trump’s plan to increase law enforcement and military presence, coupled with the potential use of the DOJ and FBI to target marginalized groups, raises alarms about civil rights protections.

The militarization of law enforcement under Project 2025 threatens the safety and freedoms of vulnerable populations, and all those who do not fall under the category of cisgender heterosexual, white, Christians.

Authors of Project 2025 seek to erase terms like “gender identity” and “diversity” from government language, further marginalizing LGBTQ+ individuals. The plan also includes proposals to demonize the LGBTQ+ community, painting them as societal threats through various government agencies.

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) and a Project 2025 advisor, continues to promote controversial Christian Nationalist views. At a Phoenix rally, he compared the fight against “wokeness” to World War II battles against totalitarianism. TPUSA, with significant financial backing, actively promotes conservative values and opposes LGBTQ+ rights.

The project calls for the removal of LGBTQ+ protections in employment, education, and adoption, and aims to criminalize gender-affirming care. LGBTQ+ individuals face the threat of job termination and increased legal persecution under this plan.

Under these rules, anyone who can be proven or, perhaps, even suspected of being hired under Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, will be fired.

Christian nationalism is a keystone in shaping Project 2025, which includes efforts to restrict reproductive rights in addition to LGBTQ+ issues. The plan’s advocates seek to make the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) federal law, promoting Christian traditional family values at the expense of individual freedoms.

This includes allowing orphanages to turn away potential adopters who adhere to any faith other than Christianity. Further, Project 2025 threatens to eradicate adoptions as a whole, as the manifesto calls for a child’s “right” to be raised by their mother and father, regardless of the economic and/or mental states of said parents. The act would also limit or eliminate the right to practice one’s religion of choice, thereby annihilating the separation of church and state. 

Project 2025  extends to altering the post-WWII international order, challenging established human rights declarations. Plans to fire civil servants and replace them with political appointees were also discussed, raising concerns about the impartiality and stability of federal agencies. 

One zoom attendee  voiced concerns about the defunding of LGBTQ+ nonprofits and the potential for increased investigations and demonization of organizations working with immigrants. The implementation of Project 2025 through executive orders by a conservative president poses a substantial risk to this concern.

Emphasizing the critical need to act now, speakers highlighted the growth of a far-right international network since Trump’s presidency, which could lead to the criminalization of LGBTQ+ individuals. The overturning of landmark cases like Lawrence v. Texas could pave the way for further legal persecution.

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Biden-Harris campaign debuts ads targeting LGBTQ voters

The Biden-Harris 2024 campaign will debut new ads on Tuesday targeting LGBTQ voters in battleground states for Pride Month

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Image courtesy of Biden-Harris 2024 campaign


WILMINGTON, Del. — The Biden-Harris 2024 campaign will debut new ads on Tuesday targeting LGBTQ voters in battleground states for Pride Month ahead of November’s election.

“These ads will be featured across national and battleground LGBTQ+ media outlets, and will run throughout the month,” the campaign explained in a press release.

The aim is to “uplift” Biden’s record as “the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in history” while also highlighting “Donald Trump’s history of attacking their rights and his plans to go further.”

One ad that was previewed exclusively by the Washington Blade reads, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are fighting for the LGBTQ community!” with a photo of the president and vice president.

Another, formatted for social media, features a photo of Pride flags atop a quote from the “PBS NewsHour”: “On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has been outlining what he plans to do if elected in November. That includes rolling back the rights of millions of LGBTQ+ people. It’s part of a wider playbook to undo many civil rights advances for minority groups.”

“This Pride is an important time to remember the progress we’ve made for our community under President Biden, and the stakes of this election for LGBTQ+ Americans as Trump proudly runs to strip us of our rights,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Spokesperson Kevin Munoz, who is gay.

“From threatening IVF treatments to threatening LGBTQ+ marriages, Trump’s Project 2025 agenda would rip away our rights, and sow needless hate and division for Trump’s political gain,” he said. “LGBTQ+ Americans deserve to hear from us about these stakes, and this buy shows we will continue to show up and make our case to them in this election.”

The ad blitz on Tuesday comes after the campaign’s announcement of a paid media and organizing push for Pride month, which includes sizable investments in courting LGBTQ voters in battleground states.

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Politics

New poll: 60% oppose laws banning youth gender-affirming care

A slim majority believe that changing one’s gender is morally wrong. Yet, a majority also oppose laws banning gender-affirming care

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“March for Queer and Trans Youth Autonomy” on Transgender Day of Visibility 2023. (File photo: Washington Blade/Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – A new Gallup poll out this week found that six in 10 U.S. adults oppose laws banning gender-affirming care for minors. The poll also found that a steady 51% of Americans think changing one’s gender is morally wrong, while 44% say it is morally acceptable.

According to the researchers at Gallup: There are significant demographic differences in Americans’ views of the morality of changing one’s gender. Majorities of political liberals (81%), Democrats (72%), those who do not identify with a religion (67%), those who do not attend religious services regularly (59%), young adults aged 18 to 29 (56%) and college graduates (53%) believe changing genders is morally acceptable. Less than half of their counterparts say the same.

While slightly less than half of women believe in the moral acceptability of changing genders, they are significantly more likely than men to think as much (48% vs. 39%, respectively).

In data published by the Human Rights Campaign, as of May 2024, 39% or 117,600 trans youth aged 13-17 are living in the 25 states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care. This includes 18,500 youth living in the three states–Florida, Ohio, and Montana–where bans are currently on hold or blocked from enforcement through court orders.

In its survey, Gallup researchers gauged Americans’ support for laws banning such care for minors with two questions, each asked of half of the total sample. One question asks about bans in general terms, on “treatments and medical procedures,” while the other spells out some of the specific treatments that could be banned, such as “psychological support, hormonal treatments and medical surgeries” to help minors align with their gender identity.

Gallup researchers found that on both questions, Republicans are more supportive than Democrats and independents of bans on gender-affirming care for minors.

On the more specific question that includes psychological support, hormonal treatments and medical surgeries, a majority of Republicans (53%) but far fewer Democrats (25%) and independents (34%) favor a ban.

On the more general question, Republicans are somewhat less likely to support a ban on treatments and medical procedures (45%), while Democrats’ and independents’ responses remain unchanged from the more specific question.

Gallup researchers measured U.S. adults’ gender identity in all of its surveys; an average of 0.9% of U.S. adults in 2023 identified as transgender. Transgender identification among adults is highest (2.8%) for those in Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2005).

The Gallup polling data also revealed:

A slim majority of Americans believe that changing one’s gender is morally wrong. Yet, a majority also oppose laws banning gender-affirming care to help minors align with their gender identity.

This discrepancy could be because the questions about gender-affirming care specifically mention minors, while the question about the morality of changing one’s gender does not. In addition, the relatively low support for banning laws on gender-affirming care may be attributable to Americans’ general distaste for bans, a pattern that can be seen in Gallup trends on banning cigarette smoking and handguns.

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Bogus Doctors org pushed by Musk & Fox News against trans care

Headlines on conservative news sites stated that the “American College of Pediatricians” opposes trans care

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A video featuring Dr. Jill Simons states that there must be an end to "social affirmation, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones" for trans youth. (Photo Credit: Erin Reed)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On Friday, numerous conservative accounts and news sources promoted headlines that the “American College of Pediatricians” had issued a statement against transgender care.

video accompanied the announcement featuring Dr. Jill Simons, who, wearing a white lab coat, states that there must be an end to “social affirmation, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones” for transgender youth.

Despite the official-looking attire and name, the organization’s name serves to mislead observers into thinking they are the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents tens of thousands of pediatricians. In reality, the ACP is a hyper-conservative Christian group of doctors created in 2002 to oppose gay parenting.

In the announcement released on Friday, Simons called for an end to social transition and gender-affirming care for transgender youth. One video, which went viral, begins with a statement that the organization has released a “declaration” authored by the American College of Pediatricians, along with “hundreds of doctors and healthcare workers,” opposing transgender care.

It references the highly-politicized Cass Review from the United Kingdom, whose author controversially blames pornography for being transgender, as well as the Climategate-style leak of the “WPATH Files” to support the statement.

The video, which was viewed over 51 million times on Twitter, cuts off just before the next speaker is introduced: Dr. Andre Van Mol, who represents the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. Van Mol serves on the board of the Bethel Church of Redding, which made headlines in 2019 for attempting to pray a dead child back to life.

He is followed by representatives from several other Christian medical organizations that also support banning transgender care. The website promoted at the event lists signatories to the statement, including the Catholic Medical Association, Genspect, The National Catholic Bioethics Center, the Family Research Council, and the Discovery Institute, an organization that promotes intelligent design over evolution in schools.

The American College of Pediatricians has been hugely influential in the promotion of anti-trans policy in the United States, relying in part to its misleading name. Members of the organization testify in state houses and courtrooms across the United States, misleading legislators into thinking they are the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics, the professional society that represents 67,000 pediatricians in the United States.

In 2023, the organization inadvertently left a Google Drive public, leading to the leak of a massive trove of files showing their extremist roots. According to these documents, the group received significant media training from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing organization that has played a large role in the passage and defense of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the United States.

It also received free video production from Family Watch International, a group of Christian fundamentalists opposing homosexuality, birth control, abortion, and sex education. The American College of Pediatricians itself has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2012, when the group’s leader stated that “homosexuality poses a danger to children” and that the group was “essentially a Judeo-Christian values organization.”

Despite its clear Christian fundamentalist opposition to LGBTQ+ people, the organization’s name has been utilized to help create misleading headlines about the state of medical acceptance of transgender care in the United States.

On Friday, conservative influencer Robby Starbuck posted a video of Simons speaking with a statement that “The American College of Pediatricians” had called for groups to “IMMEDIATELY stop the promotion of social affirmation, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgeries for children and adolescents who experience distress over their biological sex.”

That video was retweeted by Elon Musk, who quote tweeted it with a reply of “wow.” Michael Shermer of “Skeptic Magazine” also promoted the misleading video. Following millions of views on twitter, Fox News reported on the video, stating that “American College of Pediatricians issues fiery statement condemning child gender transition” and that “The American College of Pediatricians and other groups argue evidence does not support transgender medical procedures.”

The Fox News article makes no mention of the nature of the ACP and its Christian conservative roots.

The article and tweets successfully fooled many people. Replies to the Fox News story, for instance, feature top-rated comments such as “I’m a retired physician, pathologist, who has been wondering why this group and others have taken so long to publish a position paper along these lines,” “I never thought I would see anything like this in my entire life,” and “Finally…….a medical group has the courage to speak out against this evil practice!”

Despite the widespread misinformation, every major medical organization in the United States supports gender-affirming care. In February, the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world, released a policy resolution stating that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and saves lives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that transgender youth have access to gender-affirming care tailored to their unique needs. The Advocates for Trans Equality maintains a list of over 30 of the largest U.S.-based medical organizations that support transgender care, including the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Public Health Association, and the American Medical Association.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Political commentary & analysis

2024 European elections: A turning point for LGBTQ rights?

After the elections, right-wing parties are gaining substantial ground and concerns about the potential impact on LGBTQ rights are growing

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The Pride flag and flag of the European Union fly over International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo Credit: ILGA)

By Amber Laenen | BRUSSELS, Belgium – As the dust settles after the 2024 European Parliament elections, right-wing parties are gaining substantial ground and concerns about the potential impact on LGBTQ rights are growing. The projected surge in support for far-right parties, however, was not as pronounced as some had expected.

Monday morning’s estimates indicate the far-right’s presence has, however, undeniably increased. 

The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) gained four seats, bringing their total to 73. The Identity and Democracy group saw a significant rise, gaining nine seats to reach 58. Together, these nationalist, anti-immigrant parties now hold around 130 seats, reflecting their growing influence.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, which clinched over 32 percent of the vote, and the Alternative for Germany securing approximately 16 percent of the vote and becoming the country’s second-largest party, ahead of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats, in particular could affect the broader political dynamics in Europe.

Despite the gains for the far-right, the mainstream conservative European People’s Party (EPP) emerged as the largest group, securing 189 seats, an increase of 13 seats. The two other centrist parties, the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and Renew Europe, however, experienced losses that eroded the political center. S&D finished with 135 seats, losing four, while Renew Europe saw a significant reduction, finishing with 83 seats.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen celebrated her party’s victory and called for cooperation among centrists to ensure a “strong and effective Europe.” She emphasized the responsibility that comes with the election results, noting the need for stability amid growing support for extremist parties.

The election’s biggest losers were the Greens, who saw their support decrease by 25 percent, ending with 53 seats. The Greens, despite this setback, could still play a crucial role in supporting centrist majorities as an alternative to further-right parties.

All eyes are now on the election winners, the EPP. 

Von der Leyen has indicated her readiness to work with certain parties sitting with the hard-right ECR. Initial signals from the EPP camp, however, suggest it will stay true to its traditional allies at the center. Von der Leyen has offered to work with socialists and liberals to build a “majority in the center for a strong Europe,” underscoring the importance of maintaining a united front against extremism.

The narrow margins in the new parliament could lead to issue-by-issue coalitions, especially for sensitive issues such as those related to the European Green Deal. This limited room for maneuver could see the EPP relying on partners to its right on an ad hoc basis, including for critical decisions that include ushering in a new commission president. Von der Leyen’s future hangs in the balance as she seeks re-election. National delegations within her EPP grouping and support from lawmakers of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which clinched 24 seats, will play a crucial role in her bid to secure an absolute majority of 361 MEPs.

The implications for LGBTQ rights in Europe are significant. 

Far-right parties, known for their conservative social values, might push for policies that restrict LGBTQ rights, opposing marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, and challenging the legal recognition of gender identity and access to healthcare for transgender people. Such potential policy reversals represent a significant setback for the LGBTQ community.

The rising popularity of far-right ideologies also poses a risk of heightened discrimination and hate speech against LGBTQ people. 

Hate-motivated violence and exclusion are likely to become more prevalent, along with more frequent and aggressive hate speech targeting the LGBTQ community. Additionally, far-right parties often promote traditional gender roles and family structures, potentially undermining the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ identities. Nonbinary, transgender, and intersex people could face increased stigmatization.

The 16th annual Rainbow Map that ILGA-Europe publishes underscores the importance of legal protections for LGBTQ people. 

Authoritarian leaders across Europe continue to use the scapegoating of LGBTQ people to divide and mobilize their electorates. Several countries, however, have demonstrated robust political will to advance and protect LGBTQ rights. Some countries — Germany, Iceland, Estonia, and Greece — have made significant strides in protecting LGBTQ rights through improvements in legislation and anti-discrimination measures. Belgium, Cyprus, Norway, and Portugal have introduced bans on conversion therapy practices.

Countries such as Italy, on the other hand, show the consequences of stalling legislative protection for LGBTQ people. Moreover, EU accession countries, including Turkey and Georgia, are actively eroding human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Rainbow Map illustrates the stark differences in how European countries handle LGBTQ rights. 

While some nations are making significant progress, others are regressing, influenced by the far-right’s growing power. Germany, Iceland, Estonia, and Greece, for example, have made noteworthy improvements in their legal frameworks to protect LGBTQ people. Germany prohibited hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics, while Estonia and Greece amended their laws to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.

In contrast, Italy, which has dropped in the rankings due to stalling legislative protections, exemplifies the risk of complacency that many activists in Europe fear. The far-right’s influence can quickly lead to the erosion of rights if proactive measures are not taken. The situation is even more dire in EU accession countries such as Turkey and Georgia, where LGBTQ rights are actively being rolled back.

The stakes are high as Europe moves forward from these elections. 

The EU must address the rise in political hate speech and new tools of oppression that include Russia’s criminalization of the LGBTQ movement. Without strong laws and policies to protect LGBTQ people, the foundation of safety, rule of law, and democracy in Europe is at risk.

The balance of power remains delicate as the European Parliament prepares for its new term.

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The first major test will be the approval of the new European Commission president, which is set for July. Von der Leyen, who narrowly won her position five years ago, will need to secure broad support among centrists while navigating the complex dynamics of the new parliament. The secret ballot process adds an additional layer of uncertainty, making her re-election far from guaranteed.

The 2024 European elections have set the stage for potentially significant changes in the legislative and social landscape of the EU. As right-wing parties gain power, the fight for LGBTQ rights becomes more crucial than ever. The next few years will be pivotal in determining whether Europe can uphold its commitment to human rights and equality or if it will see a regression influenced by nationalist, conservative ideologies.

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Amber Laenen is a senior at Thomas More Mechelen University in Belgium. She is majoring in journalism and international relations.

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