In an astonishing turn of events, the Provo Freedom Festival issued a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation (yet excluded gender identity), and then immediately denied several LGBTQ organizations from marching in the Freedom Festival Parade. Festival organizers once again rejected an application for Encircle, an LGBTQ outreach group based in Provo, to participate in festival events July 4. The festival also rejected the applications of several other LGBTQ groups, including Mormons Building Bridges, PFLAG, and Provo Pride, reports ABC4 News.
“They said it was celebrating patriotism and our [proposed entry] was not celebrating patriotism,” Stephanie Larsen, founder of Encircle told Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m surprised. I’m very surprised. We worked long and hard hoping that they would come around.”
Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams also, “The disconnect between the Freedom Festival’s word and action is as astonishing as it is disappointing. The organizers of the festival need to ask themselves: do they support liberty and justice for All or just some?
“The Fourth of July is a celebration for all Americans — including LGBTQ Utahns. We have fought hard to earn the rights and privileges of citizenship. This staggering bigotry is unbecoming of both Provo and Utah.
“Platitudes cannot act as a veil for outright discrimination. These kinds of exclusions only keep LGBTQ youth from seeing reflections of themselves celebrated in our communities and adds to despair and suicidality.
“We call on Provo City and the Freedom Festival to reverse course and let every LGBTQ organization join the celebration in full equality.”
Provo City Deputy Mayor Isaac Paxman said the mayor’s office is “disappointed” in the Freedom Festival’s decision to reject Encircle.
“We think it would be wonderful if the Freedom Festival and Encircle would work together to see if they can come up with an entry that both the festival and Encircle can feel good about,” Paxman said.