Pride events cancelled across Florida due to ‘climate of fear’ after DeSantis’s anti-LGBT+ laws

Organisers say Florida laws ‘have created a climate of fear and hostility’

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 23 May 2023 04:38 BST
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LGBTQ+ Florida senator makes tearful plea against ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Pride organisers in Florida have called off events that were to take place during the Pride Month in the wake of the latest anti-LGBT+ laws signed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

Organisers based in the town of St Cloud outside Orlando announced on Thursday that they have cancelled the upcoming 10 June event, saying they are aware that it is “unsafe to hold the event”.

“As you know, Florida has recently passed a number of laws that target the LGBTQIA+ community. These laws have created a climate of fear and hostility for LGBTQIA+ people in Florida,” the organisers said.

“We believe that holding an LGBTQIA+ event in this environment would put our community at risk.”

Officials and organisers in Port St Lucie city announced the cancellation of Pride parades last month and limitation of other activities for those who are 21 years or older.

Mr DeSantis, a 2024 presidential hopeful, has signed several bills last week that banned gender-affirming care for minors, restricted pronoun use in schools and forced individuals to use restrooms corresponding with their biological sex – an expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill enacted into law last year.

The laws have been dubbed as a “slate of hate” by activists and opponents.

The new laws will target drag shows in the state, limit the use of preferred pronouns for pupils in schools, and ban trans people from using public bathrooms that do not match with their gender assigned at birth.

NAACP, a civil rights group, issued a formal travel advisory for Florida, stating that the state has become “openly hostile toward African Americans, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals”.

It denounced the state’s "aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programmes in Florida schools”.

LGBT+ advocacy group Equality Florida also issued a similar advisory after Mr DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law.

"That law, along with additional proposals being considered, has turned the state’s classrooms into political battlefields and is telegraphing to LGBTQ families and students that they are not welcome in Florida," the group said.

Florida’s Lake County Pride, however, pushed back against the laws, saying: “No unconstitutional law will keep us from celebrating our PRIDE event”.

“Lake County Pride will never back down, and we stood firm and united in fighting against the "Drag Ban,” it said.

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