LAOS: US Embassy Supports Nation’s First-Ever LGBT Pride Celebration
Laos has held its first-ever LGBT Pride event with the support of the U.S. Embassy.More than 100 people attended the event, which took place on the sports field of the U.S. Embassy. The guests of honor were U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart and Dr. Bounpheng Philavong, Director of the Center for HIV/AIDS/STI (CHAS) at the Lao Ministry of Health. During their remarks, both Dr. Bounpheng and Ambassador Stewart congratulated the event organizers for taking an important first step to achieving full acceptance of LGBT people in Lao society.
“The message we want to send is that no matter what you look like or where you come from or what your sexual orientation is, every single one of you is a person with value and should be treated with dignity and respect,” Ambassador Stewart told the crowd to loud applause. The event drew performers and participation from a number of organizatons that provide outreach and services to Laos’ LGBT community, including the Purple Sky Network, Lao Positive Health Association (Lao PHA), Population Services International (PSI), the Burnet Institute, Family Health International (FHI), the Vientiane Youth Center for Health and Development, and UNFPA.
The theme was “Proud To Be Us.”
Chile: 12th Annual Pride Parade Attracts 80, 000 & British Embassador Jon Benjamin
Pink News UK reports:
On Saturday, Santiago’s twelfth annual pride parade took place with over 80,000 people demanding further advancement of LGBT rights in Chile.
Marcha por la Igualidad, or March for Equality, took place on a sunny winter day in Santiago, with attendees demanding equality before the law.
The march was also attended by prominent politicians as well as by the British ambassador Jon Benjamin, who read a letter of support for pride and LGBT rights on behalf of the European Union.
‘When the family supports, society does not discriminate’ was the motto of this year’s march, organized by Movilh, Chile’s main LGBT rights organisation.
It started at 2pm from Plaza Italia, at the heart of Santiago with a wide range of organisations and movements represented as well as party-goers and their friends and families. Besides carrying political banners, the march was festive in nature and boasted a huge closet that people could walk into and ‘come out’ of.
On a more serious note the march commemorated the death of Daniel Zamudio, a young man who was murdered by neo-Nazis due to his sexuality, and his mother spoke movingly in his memory during the event.
The march celebrated the resulting passage of Chile’s first anti-discrimination law, which will include harsh legal penalties for hate crimes once the country’s President Sebastián Piñera signs it into law in a few weeks time.
The march continued through downtown Santiago ending by the La Moneda presidential palace, where two stages, organised by the two leading LGBT rights organisations of Chile, hosted celebrities, artists and speakers entertaining the crowd until 9pm.
Many politicians participated and spoke to the participants, including Education Minister Harald Beyer, Socialist Senator Isabel Allende, and ex-Finance Minister Andres Velasco, who is also a presidential candidate for the 2014 elections.
‘We have made some steps, but we need much more’ Velasco said. ‘It is incredible that we took seven years in Congress to have an anti-discrimination law, which was approved only when we saw a young Chilean man tortured to death only three blocks from here.’
The march also campaigned for a civil partnership law, known as Acuerdo de Vida de Pareja (AVP), that would formally recognize same-sex couples and grant them the same rights as heterosexual ones.
‘I have always supported gay marriage’ said Harald Beyer, Chile’s Education Minister. ‘Societies need to gradually move forward, and this government has taken the AVP as a first step to keep moving forward to have a more equal society.’
UK ambassador Benjamin told me: ‘It’s the second year running I participated in the march.
‘I was there to show the British government’s support of LGBT rights worldwide, and personally I am also very supportive of gay rights movements.
‘During the march I read out a letter of support of LGBT rights in Chile signed by the 19 European Union Ambassadors which have an embassy in Santiago.
‘As far as I am aware I was the only ambassador present; a US embassy representative also attended. The fact that many politicians from across the political spectrum were present, including the Minister for Education, shows wide range support for LGBT rights.
‘Much change has been taking place in this rather conservative country since the return to democratic rule. LGBT rights have increasingly received wider support both politically and socially. The current government right of centre government, led by president Piñera is quite liberal on the issue of LGBT rights, as evidenced by the landmark anti-discrimination law and the plans to introduce civil partnership.
‘It is also worth noting that Chile voted for a UN resolution on human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity on the 17 June 2011.
‘On 17 May we flew the rainbow flag alongside the Union Jack to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).’
Kraft’s Director Of Corporate Affairs, Basil Maglaris, Issues Statement On Rainbow Oreo
Via The Washington Post:
“We are excited to illustrate what is making history today in a fun and playful way. Kraft Foods has a proud history of celebrating diversity and inclusiveness. We feel the OREO ad is a fun reflection of our values. There has been a lot of buzz about the image, and it shows how relevant OREO is to people even after 100 years.”
Bulgaria: Orthodox Church Priest Issues Call For Violence At Sofia Pride Parade
All Out sends us an urgent press release:On Saturday, June 30th, the Fifth Ever Sofia Pride Parade Saturday is scheduled to take place in Bulgaria’s capital city. Last year, marchers in the Sofia Pride Parade were brutally attacked and beaten in the street when walking home after the Parade. The first Pride Parade in 2008 was firebombed with Molotov cocktails by skinheads and members of an extreme right wing party. This year, these same extremists - including the Bulgarian National Union - have now been given a permit to hold a public event — ostensibly a “concert” but in reality a anti-Pride gathering — just a few hours before the Sofia Pride Parade.
Father Evgenii Yanakiev, a local priest in the Orthodox Church, advised people to “throw stones” at the Pride participants and called for politicians who support the march to be “drowned in the sea with millstones tied around their necks”. While the march itself will have police present, an angry stirred-up mob of right wing extremists threatens to turn the day into a violence-filled free-for-all. Nothing prevents the mob from blocking people traveling to the Parade or following them home. The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Sofia Pride Committee, and other human rights activists are asking the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to make an official statement condemning these calls for violence and officially distancing the Church from these statements.
All Out has posted a petition to Sofia’s mayor demanding that he revoke the permit for the anti-gay parade.
Song Of The Day - Shirley Bassey - This Is My Life
Hope y’all had a fabulous Pride Celebration!
Vote for you’re favourite video here.
Via White House’s website:
We will be accepting feedback until midnight Monday, June 25th.
In April, the White House Office of Public Engagement launched the LGBT Pride Month Champions of Change Video Challenge to explore the stories of unsung heroes and local leaders who are making an impact in their communities. A group of finalists will be featured as Champions of Change at an event at the White House in July.