This summer, HRC proudly partnered with five pride events around the world. Building on relationships established with innovators at HRC’s inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit this past spring, HRC sponsored Prides in Lithuania, Jamaica, Uganda, Nepal and Vietnam.
Kicking off the pride season in June, HRC joined nearly 2,000 LGBTQ community members and allies at Baltic Pride 2016 in Vilnius, Lithuania, an annual celebration that brings together the LGBTQ and allied community from the three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. HRC participated in the International Baltic Pride 2016 Human Rights Conference organized by LGL, Lithuania’s national LGBT organization. At the conference, HRC Global Coordinator Ashley Fowler spoke on a panel moderated by global innovator and LGL Policy Coordinator Tomas Raskevičius about how HRC leveraged its knowledge and experience to help advance the marriage equality movement in both Ireland and Australia. Additionally, Judy Shepard, who has served on the HRC Board of Directors since 2001, and her husband Dennis, spoke at a Baltic Pride event entitled “Pride Voices” about the tragic loss of their son Matthew Shepard.
HRC also partnered with Pride JA in Jamaica to support their weeklong LGBTQ pride celebration. Hosted by J-FLAG, the most influential LGBTQ rights advocacy organization in Jamaica, Pride JA featured events ranging from a family picnic to a black tie gala. Jaevion Nelson of J–Flag attended HRC’s inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit in March.
That same week, HRC also proudly sponsored Uganda Pride’s opening reception for the second year in a row and sent materials to Uganda for the pride celebration. Following an unexpected police raid and threats from Uganda’s Minister of Ethics, Simon Lokodo, organizers decided to postpone the official pride march. HRC immediately declared its solidarity with LGBTQ activists and allies in Uganda and condemned the unwarranted police raid and threats from Minister Lokodo.
Continuing in August, at the invitation of the U.S. State Department, HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse spent a week in several cities in Nepal supporting the ongoing efforts of LGBTQ Nepali activists and allies in the government, media and political parties. While in Nepal, Rouse was able to share experiences from the American LGBTQ movement and ideas on how advocates can work to secure the rights guaranteed in the country’s new constitution. The trip ended with Rouse marching at the head of the annual Gaijatra Nepal Pride Parade alongside a former Nepali first lady and member of parliament Hisila Yami, U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz, LGBTQ activists such as HRC Global innovator Manisha Dhakal of Blue Diamond Society – the country’s oldest and largest LGBTQ rights organization. which organized the parade – and allies.
Finally, HRC Global provided support for Vietnam’s fifth annual LGBTQ pride celebration, Viet Pride 2016. Thirty-three different events were held peacefully throughout Vietnam leading up to the annual pride parade and bike ride in Hanoi. HRC’s partnership with Viet Pride further strengthened HRC’s earlier work in the region. In June, HRC partnered with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, to host a global equality summit focused on workplace inclusion and the relationship between the business and LGBTQ communities.
HRC recognizes that pride serves an important role in community building and raising the visibility of LGBTQ movements around the world. Noting the persecution that many LGBTQ communities face when organizing Pride events, HRC applauds the efforts of activists abroad who use pride as a platform to increase support for the LGBTQ community in their region.