13:09, July 04 216 0

2017-07-04 13:09:05


Utah ‘freedom festival’ kicks LGBT group out of 4th of July parade

The largest Independence Day parade in Utah is one group shorter this 4th of July, after organizers disinvited a Provo nonprofit that caters to the LGBT community, reported KUTV.

The Provo Freedom Festival revoked the approved application by Encircle: LGBT + Family & Youth Resource Center, claiming it is as an advocacy group.

Encircle disputed that classification, however, citing its status as a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

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The decision prompted an outcry on social media — not just from the group’s supporters, but from homophobes who saw an opportunity to bash their LGBT neighbors.

Here are some screenshots of the messages in Jeremy Harris’s tweet:

The Festival claims it “highlights freedom through bands, professionally crafted floats, giant helium balloons and local and national performers,” while encouraging participants to “promote patriotism and traditional family values to around 300,000 spectators.”

Encircle maintains it does not advocate any “certain political party or legal action.”  According to its website, the group “functions as a hub for resources that support the overall well being of LGBT individuals.” Encircle, which opened its doors February 14 of this year, offers community, skills training, and counseling, among other services.

Here is the statement the group posted to Facebook:

Dear Encircle Family and Friends: We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being willing to walk with us in the America’s Freedom Festival Parade in Provo tomorrow morning. We know you are all as excited as we are to spend time together celebrating the Fourth and our freedoms as families and as a community. Encircle: LGBT+ Family and Youth Resource Center opened fewer than six months ago, and as such a young organization, it seems we have not yet been able to sufficiently introduce ourselves to the broader Provo community. Initially, our application to the America’s Freedom Festival Parade was approved; however, today we learned that our group is no longer allowed to participate. We are disappointed that we have been rejected for being classified as an “advocacy group.” As a 501c3, we dispute this classification. We do not and never have advocated a certain political party or legal action. We maintain, as we always have, that our mission is to “Empower families to sustain the circle of their love, enabling each member to thrive.” We respect the decision of the parade committee and will use this as an opportunity to show Provo who we are. We will always come from a place of love and intention, never fear or reaction. We are here to be a safe space for all, which means being planted firmly. In lieu of walking in the parade with us tomorrow, please join us for a pancake breakfast at the Encircle home. We will get started at 8 am. Thank you all for your continued support. No sides, Only Love: The Encircle Team

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