Anti-LGBTQ+ protests by far-right extremists in US surge by 340 per cent

Donald Trump speaks at the America First Policy Institute annual summit

Anti-LGBTQ+ protests by far-right extremists have skyrocketed in the US, up by 340 per cent compared to 12 months ago.

According to a recent report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), extremists have taken part in at least 55 events and protests targeting the LGBTQ+ community in 2022, up from 16 in 2021. 

Data in the report shows a corresponding rise in violent attacks on LGBTQ+ people in the America.

The organisation, which tracks political violence, documented “at least 150 incidents of violence” targeting Americans this year, with “more than 20” specifically targeting the LGBTQ+ community in 2022, up from seven incidents of violence targeting LGBTQ+ people in 2021.

The ACLED reported that while racism is the primary driver of extremist activity, with 750 events documented this year, anti-LGBTQ+ protests have “fuelled the largest increase in far-right protest activity”, with a strong correlation to violent attacks, including the horrific mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ venue in Colorado Springs on 19 November.

The report added that an uptick in violence against the LGBTQ+ community in America this year could be linked to politics, with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from extremists aiming to “drive voters to the polls”.

You may like to watch

“This year, for example, as a resurgence of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric and organising began to escalate ahead of Pride month in June – anchored by a renewed focus on the supposed threat to children posed by the LGBT+ community – both far-right and mainstream right-wing candidates integrated the strategy into their campaigns in an attempt to fire up the base and generate enthusiasm ahead of the midterms,” Roudabeh Kishi, director of research at ACLED, wrote in the report.

“While in many cases this line of attack failed to drive voters to the polls, it proved effective in fomenting violence against the LGBT+ community.

“In states that did see high levels of anti-LGBT+ organising around the midterms, the uptick in activity was correlated with a similar spike in anti-LGBT+ political violence.”

A group of people, some with candles, hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub on 20 November 2022 in Colorado Springs after a deadly mass shooting
People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs after the deadly mass shooting. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)

Extremist groups including the Proud Boys have made headlines for protesting at drag events including brunches and Story Time events throughout the year, with five men reportedly hijacking a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a library in California in June.

The five men involved were described as “incredibly aggressive” by police.

Rhetoric against drag events has also come from politicians, with Republican Texas state representative Bryan Slaton announcing plans in June to ban children from attending drag performances, while in Florida, supported by anti-LGBTQ+ governor Ron DeSantis, state representative Anthony Sabatini said he wanted to make it a felony offence and “terminate the parental rights of any adult who brings a child to these perverted sex shows”.

RuPaul has slammed attempts to condemn drag shows, however, saying on The Late Late Show that banning children from going to drag shows is a “diversion tactic”.

“It’s a diversion tactic to take the narrative away from the gun debate into something [else], to scare people into thinking about something else, and they’ve been successful,” RuPaul said.

“Y’all want to help your kids? Take away them guns, that will help your kids!”

Please login or register to comment on this story.