Pride Peril: ISIS Terror Threats Loom Over LGBTQ+ Celebrations

Summer: the season of love. It is the time of year when happy couples don their crispest suit and brightest white dress to walk down the aisle. The warm weather is sure to be a highlight for the surplus of weddings planning to take place.

Summer Oppression

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However, even during the months of June, July, and August, some couples are never afforded the luxury of marriage. Queer relationships around the world are given a second citizen treatment, due to their non-traditional pairing.

Hot Topic

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While it is currently legal for same-sex couples to wed in the US, many morally disagree with it. The debate is centered around whether or not marriage should be recognized as a sacrament of the Church, or simply a tax status in the eyes of the government.

One Month To Celebrate

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Luckily, queer people often have another event to look forward to in the summer season: Pride month. The month of June is dedicated to celebrating the diversity of love across the gender spectrum. 

Raising Red Flags

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This year, however, serious concerns have been raised about the safety of Pride. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have released statements saying that foreign terrorist groups may target “LGBTQIA+-related events and venues,”.

Terrors From Abroad

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The worries over public safety were announced last week, quoting that “Organizations like ISIS may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month,” within US borders.

Not So Relaxed

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Both government agencies pointed to the potential threat being more severe than previous years. Their claims are backed by a “current heightened threat environment”, no doubt referencing the tense political situation over queer rights. 

Corporate Involvement

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DHS and FBI officials are unsure what the threats from terrorist organizations may look like. They could come in the form of digital or in-person attacks. The concerns are cast widely, not just for individuals but for corporations participating in Pride as well.

Casting A Wide Net

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The agencies specifically call out ISIS as the top threat, after the group released cries that “called for followers to conduct attacks on unidentified soft targets, although the attacks and targets were not specific to LGBTQIA+ venues,”.

National Security Puzzled?

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FBI and DHS officials are not the only ones on edge. Former counterterrorism director for the National Security Council, Javed Ali, weighed in. Ali went public with his statements during an interview with ABC News.

Unclear Strategies

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“LGBQTIA+ members have drawn the ire of al-Qaida and ISIS supporters in the past based on their perceived lifestyles and beliefs,” Ali commented. The former director is still at a loss, though, as to the specifics for if and how the threats will manifest.

How Much Caution?

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“However, the degree to which this announcement was driven by specific and credible intelligence about attacks here against this community, versus a more general abundance of caution based on Pride month, remains unclear.” Ali concluded.

A Heartbreaking History

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FBI and DHS warnings also point to previous massacres as an example, mainly the Pulse nightclub shooting that took place in Orlando, FLorida during pride back in 2016. During the shooting, almost 100 people were either killed or injured.

Praising Hate

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An official co-opted statement from the agencies noted that “After the Pulse shooting, pro-ISIS messaging praised this attack as one of the high-profile attacks in Western countries, and FTO supporters celebrated it,”.

Pledging Allegiances

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The shooter responsible for the incident was not reported to be previously connected with any terrorist group. However, after the shooting, the assailant pledged his allyship to ISIS during a 911 call.

Can’t Be Tamed

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Security experts let out a similar warning last year, urging Pride event managers to cancel the celebrations altogether. However, no major events orchestrated were canceled or delayed.

GLAAD CEO Comments

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Weighing in on matters is Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the prominent LGBTQ+ organization known as GLAAD. Ellis commented that when it comes to pride, safety is absolutely no laughing matter.

A Strange Symptom

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Ellis speculates that some of these threats are a result of growing acceptance, saying “A fringe few extremists, domestically and overseas, are irrationally threatened by the rising tide of acceptance for LGBTQ people,”

Pride Safety

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Ellis followed up this remark noting that “It is important to keep Prides safe for all attendees, and for people to keep showing up during Pride and throughout the year to speak up for the equality and safety of their communities and all marginalized people.”

Stay Alert

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As far as official safety procedures go, all organizations involved state that it is important to remain vigilant of one’s surroundings. Primarily, for the public to take note of suspicious persons that may be photographing or videoing security measures. 

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