LGBT Atlanta rallies against anti-gay Chechnya purge
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