Each June in the United States, LGBTQ+ pride month is recognized and celebrated to commemorate the Stonewall riots. Pride has since grown internationally as cities across the world come together for festivities and parades in celebration of the event. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of many in-person events both last year and this year, some cities were still able to come together this year to celebrate, honor and continue the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
Thousands of people came together on June 19 to march through Warsaw in an “equality parade,” according to the Guardian. “The equality parade is a celebration of LGBT people and all those who have to fight for their rights,” said Sylwester Cimochowski, a participant in the parade. “Homophobia is a huge problem in Poland…there are lots of people who can’t cope with it, they kill themselves. The situation of LGBT people in Poland is tragic and that’s why I’m here—to support them.” The march came days after Hungary—whose government is allied with Poland’s ruling party—introduced a law banning the “display and promotion of homosexuality” or the promotion of gender change to minors. Supporters of the law say that it is necessary to protect children from pedophilia as it includes the creation of a searchable list of convicted pedophiles. “What this law and discourse does is [mix] up crimes against children with [the] consensual love of adults,” said David Vig, director of Amnesty International Hungary. Same-sex partnership or marriage remains illegal, and over 100 Polish communities have passed anti-LGBTQ+ resolutions in the past two years in the largely conservative nation.
Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel
Organizers estimated that 100,000 people attended a Pride parade on June 25, according to AP News. The event was one of the largest events to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic. “Pride events in Tel Aviv-Yafo are a long-standing tradition, centered on a message of equality, acceptance, and human and civil rights,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said. “Tel Aviv-Yafo represents a warm home for all communities residing here, and is proud to be a groundbreaking city in its approach to the LGBTQ community and a source of international inspiration. This year, more than ever, we will celebrate together, march together, and fight together for equality.” Earlier in June, approximately 8,000 people attended a smaller pride event in Jerusalem. Both events had a heavy police presence due to fears of counter-demonstration escalating to violence, as has happened in the past. “About 50 suspects suspected of involvement in various offenses, including disturbing public order and attempted harm to police officers and participants, were detained and taken for questioning at the police station,” police said in a statement.
Paris Pride occured on June 26 under the slogan, “Less talk, more rights! Too many promises, we’re going backwards!” according to France 24. The march was more politically focused than it had been in the past as Inter-LGBT, the organizers of the event, published a call to action which included specific political demands. The document cited the inaction of the French government in order to focus on issues such as medically assisted procreation (MAP) and transphobia in schools. MAP remained illegal for single women and lesbian couples in France as of Paris Pride 2021, despite it being one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign promises in 2017. On June 29, France’s lower house extended the no-cost MAP procedure to be available to single women and lesbian couples, according to AP News. “Discriminations still exist in France and that’s why pride still exists! There are so many important issues to address,” said Alix, a member of MAG Jeunes LGBT, an organization aimed at helping LGBTQ+ youth, that was present at Paris Pride.
Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey
Turkish police were seen using tear gas to disperse a crowd that gathered for a Pride parade on June 26, according to Reuters. Although the parade started as an annual event in 2003, Turkish authorities have banned it for the last seven years by refusing to grant permits. Prior to the ban, thousands of people gathered for pride events each year. “Rainbow is not a crime, discrimination is,” the marchers were heard chanting, according to the Washington Post. Approximately 20 people—including a photo-journalist—are reported to have been arrested for attempting to be a part of the parade, as police in riot gear were seen pushing and dragging people. On June 29, Turkish police detained at least 15 more people who took part in a small Pride march in Ankara. In March, the Human Rights Watch issued a statement on the Turkish government that wrote, “Anti-LGBT speeches and social media posts by top government officials have become common.”