LGBT At­lanta ral­lies against anti-gay Chech­nya purge

GA Voice - - Ge­or­gianews -

The Ma­con-Bibb County Com­mis­sion ap­proved an LGBT civil rights or­di­nance on April 18, vot­ing six to three to change the county char­ter so that the county can­not pre­vent some­one from be­ing pro­moted or hired be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity. Since the or­di­nance deals with chang­ing the county char­ter, it has one more hur­dle to go as the full com­mis­sion meets again for a fi­nal vote on the mea­sure on May 2.

13WMAZ re­ported that more than 200 peo­ple gath­ered for the vote, like LGBT ac­tivist Bent­ley Hud­gins, who told Ge­or­gia Voice that he worked with Com­mis­sioner Larry Sch­lesinger on the or­di­nance and helped or­ga­nize a pub­lic re­sponse to it.

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jeff Gra­ham called on the com­mis­sion to seal the deal.

“We’re very pleased to see the Bibb com­mis­sion move to­ward pro­tect­ing LGBT em­ploy­ees against dis­crim­i­na­tion and hope that they will vote de­ci­sively on May 2 to en­sure that all em­ploy­ees are of­fered the same level of pro­tec­tion in the work­place,” Gra­ham told Ge­or­gia Voice. “It has also been won­der­ful to see how en­gaged the lo­cal com­mu­nity is on en­sur­ing that all LGBT folks are pro­tected against dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

Around 100 peo­ple gath­ered at the corner of 10th Street and Pied­mont Av­enue for a can­dle­light vigil and protest on April 18 in re­sponse to re­ports of an anti-gay purge in Chech­nya.

Rus­sian news­pa­per Navaya Gazeta broke the story on April 1, re­port­ing that there had been a “pro­phy­lac­tic sweep” of men “in con­nec­tion with their non-tra­di­tional sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, or sus­pi­cion of such” by au­thor­i­ties in Chech­nya, and that at least three of the ar­rests had re­port­edly re­sulted in mur­der. The in­ci­dents led to con­dem­na­tion across the world, in­clud­ing from US Am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Nikki Ha­ley.

Rabbi Josh Lesser of Con­gre­ga­tion Bet Haverim pointed out to the crowd that the regime in Chech­nya is a re­li­gious one, and how that can be trig­ger­ing to many.

“That’s why it’s re­ally im­por­tant for us to find each other so that we’re not alone in hear­ing these sto­ries and to un­der­stand that we have power, and that the light is not only to bring at­ten­tion and mem­ory, but to also re­mind us that we have light to bring into this world,” Lesser said. “That there are ways that our ac­tions are pow­er­ful. And that when we feel alone and we think about the times when we were victims, that there’s strength in num­bers and strength in com­mu­nity and that we have pos­si­bil­ity to make change.”

Rabbi Josh Lesser

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