How do we fight the religious right?

A letter from Stana Iliev

Hi Marcus,

My name is Stana, and I’m a Campaigns Manager at All Out. Before that, I was an LGBT+ activist for more than 10 years in Bulgaria, where I saw the rights of our community taken away by right-wing religious extremists.

I’m here to bring you a warning of what this force of hate is capable of.

When I went to Sofia Pride in Bulgaria’s capital city, I was completely shocked. A crowd of right-wing extremists surrounded us.

The police literally fenced us in to protect us. People screamed at us. Some brought their children and taught them homophobic slurs to chant. Someone threw bibles at us from a window. I was horrified. It was traumatic for young, queer people who came to Pride for the first time.

We know the Orthodox Church influenced this attack. They’re the biggest, most funded, and loudest opponent of LGBT+ rights in the country.

And we’re seeing the same forces attacking the rights of LGBT+ people in so many other places around the world. It’s going to take a huge, renewed effort to counter this wave of hate.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and end legal abortion protection is a sign of further attacks to come, just like we saw in Bulgaria.

U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas already said that the country should turn back the clock on LGBT+ rights by ending protections for same-sex sexual activity and overturning marriage equality. As of July 1, state lawmakers have already introduced at least 162 bills targeting LGBT+ rights across the country. And much of this is in the name of trumped up and twisted narratives of “religious freedoms.”

It all feels too familiar. For years, Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church worked side-by-side with right-wing extremists. They were funded by international evangelical groups and prepared very well-coordinated social media campaigns which drastically swayed public opinion against women’s rights and LGBT+ people.

With our limited resources and connections, we were no match for them. But the All Out movement is a global force to be reckoned with.

With your help, we’ve faced these right-wing extremists head-on before – and love has won. We got homophobic hate preacher Stephen Anderson banned from South Africa in 2016 and from Ireland in 2019. In 2020, hate preacher Franklin Graham was banned from spewing hate in the UK.

And for every hateful message silenced, we’ve lifted up the voices of hundreds of LGBT+ people in countries facing extreme anti-LGBT+ violence, from China to Ghana and Kenya, with our beautiful “Voices of” campaigns.

Plus for the past year, we’ve been talking to Christian parents of LGBT+ children, to lift up their stories of how their faith and love for their children go hand-in-hand.

Thanks for going All Out,
Stana
(she/her)

OURCES:

●︎ Bulgaria once led the way on LGBT+ rights in emerging Europe. Not any more – Emerging Europe, 14. September 2020
● “Restoring the Natural Order”: The religious extremists’ vision to mobilize European societies against human rights on sexuality and reproduction – European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF) – Publication type: Intelligence Brief, 19. April 2018
● Interactive: Explore US Christian Right ‘dark money’ spending globally – Open Democracy, 28. October 2020
● From Bulgaria to Germany: geopolitics determine LGBTQ+ rights – Fair Planet, 30. June 2021
● 2022 is already a record year for state bills seeking to curtail LGBTQ rights, ACLU data shows –CNN, 17 July 2022
● Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says gay rights, contraception rulings should be reconsidered after Roe is overturned – CNBC, 26 June 2022
● All Out – Help! My Kid Just Came Out – All Out, 17 May 2022
● All out – Listen to Voices of Ghana – All Out, 17 May 2022

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Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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