Mississippi city reverses ban on Pride parade after threat of legal action

A Mississippi city has reversed a ban on holding Pride parades after being threatened with legal action.

The Board of Alderman in Starkville, which has a population of just 25,000, re-held a vote on the event today and tied three in favour and three against.

Mayor Lynn Spruill cast a deciding vote in favour of the parade which is planned to take place on March 24.

The aldermen initially voted four against and three in favour of the LGBTQ+ event.

Roy A. Perkins, Ben Carver, David Little and Henry Vaughn voted down the proposals.

Sandra Sistrunk, Jason Walker and Patrick Miller – voted to support the parade in the first vote.

Starkville Pride organisers filed a lawsuit following the vote.

They said that the board was discriminating against free speech and LGBTQ+ residents by voting to ban the Pride.

Sandra Sistrunk, one of the aldermen on the board, asked for the permit to be reconsidered after the town was thrust into an international spotlight.

She described the backlash as “a bit of a growing pain for the city” and insisted that they were now “in a position where we can make a more measured and reasoned vote”.

The decision to reverse the ban and allow the Pride to go ahead has been celebrated by LGBTQ+ groups.

Seasoned defender of LGBTQ+ rights Robbie Kaplan filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Pride organisers.

In a statement following the reversal, she said that should “couldn’t wait” until the parade.

“What happened at tonight’s meeting was a victory not only for our clients and for their equal dignity under the law, but also for the core principle that in this country, we do not restrict a person’s ability to speak based on whether or not we agree with what they have to say,” she said.

Rob Hill, the Mississippi director of the Human Rights Campaign, said that they were “proud” to have worked with Kaplan and Starkville Pride to “make this parade a reality”.

“We look forward to a successful Pride celebration,” Hill added.

Mississippi is one of seven states that continues to prohibit teachers in publicly-funded schools from discussing LGBT issues in the classroom

So-called ‘no promo homo’ laws are on the statute books in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.