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Protesters Gather in Opposition to Anti-LGBTQ Conference

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In Florida, there’s no statewide law that protects LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

A protest opposing an anti-LGBTQ conference will be held Saturday June 15. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

The Revival Baptist Church in Clermont is holding a three-day conference church leaders have dubbed “Make America Straight Again.” The event comes just days after Central Florida marked three years since the Pulse nightclub shooting.

A video on the church’s website advocates for the arrest and, quote, “capital punishment” of LGBTQ individuals. A Facebook event page for an organized protest has more than 200 people listed as “interested.”

Protest planner Thomas Westbrook says demonstrators will hold a firm, yet loving opposition to blatant discrimination and intolerance from the Revival Baptist Church.

“We are exercising our constitutional right to freedom of assembly, to protest and say ‘this is not something that the people of Orlando, or in the United States for that matter, agree with,” Westbrook said.

Included on the opposition event’s Facebook page, is a list of steps to take in order to avoid violence at the scene of a protest.

The steps are as follows:

1. Do not trespass or vandalize property. Cooperate with all instructions from the police and crowd control volunteers.

2. Do not physically of verbally provoke people. Chants and other demonstrations are common at protests, but engaging others aggressively can put you and those around you in danger. Maintain a safe buffer distance from those you are protesting for the safety of everyone involved.

3. Do not throw anything at people. Nothing good comes from doing this. Even if you were to throw something totally innocuous at someone, it can escalate quickly. Refer to #2: Don’t provoke people.

4. Remain calm. Protests and counter-protests can be highly charged and emotional environments. Remind yourself why you are here, what our goals are, and how what you do at the protest will impact achieving those goals.

5. Know when to leave. If things start to get violent, leave. Do not engage in violence. It’s better to live to fight the good fight another day.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Lake County Sheriff’s Office rejected the church’s request to hire off-duty deputies for event security, because officials want no involvement with what they say appears to be a hate group. Revival Baptist Church Pastor Patrick Boyle describes the event like this:

“Its a conference geared towards, as a local church, standing against the agenda of the LGBTQ community,” Boyle said.

The protest is set to begin tomorrow at noon, in front of the church.

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