By Rachel Savage and and Ban Barkawi
LONDON, March 12 (Openly) - From a gay Pride march in Romania to a film festival in Tunisia, a U.S. drag-queen convention to a Thai dance party, LGBT+ groups are cancelling a slew of events amid the spread of coronavirus.
The first LGBT+ film festival to be staged in North Africa announced on Thursday that it would call off its 2020 event, one day after the first Pride march fell victim to the virus.
"Some events will inevitably face cancellation, curtailment or postponement," Kristine Garina, president of the European Pride Organisers Association (EPOA), said in a statement.
"It is ironic that over the last few decades, various politicians, presidents, prime ministers, mayors, archbishops and other bigots have done their best to thwart and cancel Pride parades, but it was mother nature who succeeded."
Tunisia's LGBT+ group Mawjoudin We Exist announced plans to postpone its "Queer Film Festival" - a rarity in socially conservative North Africa - until late May.
It is also cancelling all other group activities, including therapy services and club meetings.
A gay dance party in Thailand, SK2020, which was expected to attract some 30,000 revellers next month, was also postponed until next year due to the virus outbreak.
The virus - which has infected more than 127,000 people and killed more than 4,700, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker - has hit a host of events around the world.
The organiser of Bucharest Pride said on Wednesday the event would be delayed by at least three months, the first of many LGBT+ rallies likely to be affected by the pandemic.
The Floridian city of Fort Lauderdale swiftly followed suit, postponing its first ever Pride of the Americas festival until autumn, with many more marches expected to do the same.
Bucharest Pride, which attracts about 10,000 people, was postponed from May 23 until August or September, said executive director Teodora Ion-Rotaru, as Romania banned events with more than 1,000 attendees after confirming 25 virus cases.
"Public safety should really come first at a time like this," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Millions of people worldwide take part in the Pride marches to celebrate gay, bisexual and transgender achievements and rights, mostly during Pride Month in June.
Steve Taylor, a spokesman for the EPOA, had expected up to 1,000 Prides to take place in Europe in 2020.
Few now expect such a show to take place.
Trans Pride Scotland, slated for March 28, has been cancelled, the organisation tweeted on Wednesday.
Tokyo Pride said on its website that it will announce on March 25 whether its April event will go ahead.
Los Angeles Pride is also meeting city authorities to decide if it will push ahead with its 50th anniversary celebrations, executive director Madonna Cacciatore said in an EPOA webinar.
"We're just in unchartered territory here," she said at the event attended by more than 70 Pride organisers.
Other major LGBT+ events affected include an annual awards gala put on by LGBT+ media advocacy group GLAAD, which said next week's ceremony in New York would be cancelled.
RuPaul's DragCon, an annual drag-queen convention affiliated to a popular U.S. reality TV show, has also been called off.
(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage with additional reporting by Oscar Lopez; Joint reporting by Ban Barkawi. Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths, Katy Migiro, Hugo Greenhalgh and Michael Taylor. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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