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WorldPride Announces 2014 International Grand Marshal

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Releases Human Rights Conference Schedule

TORONTO, May 15, 2014 /CNW/ - In recognition of this week's rainbow flag-raising at City Hall acknowledging the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, WorldPride 2014 Toronto announces:

  • the Pride Toronto 2014 International Grand Marshal (IGM) is Georgian human rights activist Anna Rekhviashvili;
  • all past IGMs will participate in WorldPride, converging on Toronto in an unprecedented show of support for International Human Rights;
  • the release of the preliminary WorldPride Human Rights Conference 2014 (WPHRC14) schedule;

Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Anna Rekhviashvili works as Community Center Director at Identoba, the largest LGBT organization in Georgia, where she contributes her considerable talents in community mobilization, human rights activism, solidarity building, as well as addressing gender and sexual identity issues.  She is involved in national and international advocacy for LGBT rights with key political figures in education, security and human rights.

"I am honored to be part of WorldPride 2014 Toronto. I see this as a unique opportunity to campaign for freedom of expression and the fundamental rights for our LGBT community in Georgia and to remove anti-LGBT rhetoric by pro-Russian actors," said Rekhviashvili.

"We are very pleased that Anna will be joining us to share her experience and that of the Georgian LGBT community," said Dr. Shelley Craig, Co-Chair of the Pride Toronto Board of Directors. "Their courage and commitment to human rights in a hostile environment is an inspiration to us, and we look forward to learning from her story."

In 2013, Anna Rekhviashvili was one of the key organizers of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in Tbilisi. The peaceful event was disrupted by Orthodox priests and thousands of anti-LGBT counter-protesters, injuring around 17 people, including police officers. It sparked massive public debates on LGBT issues in the media. Most people in Georgia view homosexuality as a sin, and legislation similar to the Russian law prohibiting "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" has been introduced in the Georgian Parliament. Laws of this nature effectively silence the free expression and assembly of LGBT people and their supporters, stifling advocacy and encouraging homophobia and transphobia.

Returning IGMs

In recognition of their leadership in global human rights, WorldPride 2014 is proud to welcome all former International Grand Marshals standing in solidarity at this year's global festival in Toronto in June. Together this distinguished group of activists will keep the world's eyes focused on international human rights for LGBTTIQQ2SA* individuals. The returning IGMs are:

Bill Schiller (Sweden) - Former Secretary General, International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network
Rosanna Flamer-Caldera (Sri-Lanka) - Executive Director, EQUAL Ground
Gareth Henry (Jamaica) - Former Co-Chair for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays
Victor Mukasa (Uganda) - Founding Member, Sexual Minorities Uganda
Angie Umbac (Philippines) - President and Campaigns Coordinator, Rainbow Rights Project
Goran Miletic (Serbia) - Programme Director for the Western Balkan States, Civil Rights Defenders
and Marcela Romero (Argentina) - Regional Coordinator, Latin American and Caribbean Network of Transgender People

On Sunday, June 29 at 1 p.m. they will join with Anna Rekhviashvili to lead the WorldPride 2014 Parade as global human rights leaders.

WorldPride Human Rights Conference Schedule
From June 25-27, 2014 the WorldPride Human Rights Conference will take place in downtown Toronto, bringing together an exciting gathering of activists, artists, educators, journalists, policymakers, students, and others engaged in LGBTTIQQ2SA human rights from over 50 countries around the world. The conference provides a unique opportunity for a global dialogue.  Some of the topics include:

  • Is Canada a Safe Haven for Refugees?
  • Challenging the Colonial Anti-Sodomy Law Legacy
  • The LGBTQ Movement in Russia and Eastern Europe
  • State Tolerance
  • Violence Against Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans* People in Asia
  • LGBTQ Issues in the Global workplace
  • Marriage and Family
  • Recognizing LGBTQ Parents and Families
  • Intersex persons and parents
  • Trans Activism
  • Black LGBTQ Leaders Oral History Project
  • Aging
  • Creating Inclusive Schools
  • Developing and Supporting Queer Educators
  • Responses to LGBTTIQQ2S Youth Homelessness
  • Intimacy & HIV
  • Sex Work Activism
  • The Politics of Pride Parades

Up to 150 LGBTI rights leaders from around the world will speak, including:

  • Edith Windsor, who won the landmark case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the United states
  • Cleve Jones a pioneer in the LGBT movement since the 1970s, who is currently behind the campaign to encourage LGBT tourists to patronize hotels that respect the rights of workers
  • Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir former Prime Minister of Iceland, and the world's first openly gay head of government
  • Mariela Castro Espin, Director of the Cuban National Centre for Sex Education, longtime leading voice for LGBT Rights in Cuba, and daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro
  • Russian activist and journalist Masha Gessen
  • Ugandan LBGTI activist Frank Mugisha
  • Kenyan human rights lawyer Justice Monica Mbaru
  • Venezuelan trans activist Tamara Adrián, and
  • First Nations Two-Spirited activist Albert McLeod, from The Pas in northern Manitoba and co-founder of the Nichiwakan Gay Society and the Two-Spirited Peoples of Manitoba, amongst many other speakers.

For more information and updates: http://www.wphrc14.com/program/

"We are thrilled at the breadth, depth and diversity of our program and our speakers, who will be attending from over 40 countries from around the globe," said Brenda Cossman, Director of the Bonham Centre and Conference Co-Chair. "The conference will be a remarkable opportunity to learn about, engage with and advocate for global LGBT rights"".

About WorldPride 2014 and Pride Toronto
WorldPride 2014 Toronto is an international celebration taking place from June 20-29, 2014 that incorporates activism, education, and the history and culture of global LGBTTIQQ2SA* communities. WorldPride 2014 Toronto is presented by Pride

Toronto, producer of Canada's largest annual festival of LGBTTIQQ2SA culture and human rights, under license from InterPride.

Pride Toronto is the not-for-profit organization that hosts the city's Pride Festival, an annual event in downtown Toronto during the last week of June and one of the premier arts and cultural festivals in Canada. It is also one of the largest Pride celebrations around the world with an estimated attendance of over one million people. It celebrates the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto's LGBTTIQQ2SA communities.

*LGBTTIQQ2SA is an abbreviation used to represent a broad array of identities such as, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited and allies.

For more information visit www.worldpridetoronto.com

SOURCE Pride Toronto

Image with caption: "Proud to present WorldPride 2014 | June 20-29, 2014 (CNW Group/Pride Toronto)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140515_C8548_PHOTO_EN_40352.jpg

©2012 PR Newswire. All Rights Reserved.

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