Feds warn of ‘heightened threat’ of attacks by terror groups during Pride month

Federal authorities are urging LGBTQ+ people and their allies to be aware that “foreign terrorist organizations” or their supporters could carry out violent attacks against the community during Pride Month this year.

Terrorist groups “may seek to exploit increased gatherings” associated with Pride celebrations in the U.S. and other western countries, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security said in a recent public service announcement.

According to authorities, efforts to “commit or inspire violence against holiday celebrations” such as Pride are compounded by an already-heightened “threat environment.”

Every June, LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies take to the streets and private venues to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of violent protests outside a mafia-owned gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in June 1969 often seen as the catalyst for a new phase in the fight for LGBTQ rights.

For over 50 years, events celebrating the LGBTQ community have brought rainbow-wearing crowds to cities, both small and large, across the U.S. and abroad — while also attracting those promoting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Nearly eight years ago, on June 12, 2016, a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at Pulse, a popular LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

After the gruesome incident — one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history — “pro-ISIS messaging praised [the] attack as one of the high-profile attacks in Western countries, and [foreign terrorist organizations] supporters celebrated it,” authorities said.

Early last year, “English language ISIS messaging featured an article focused on anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and rallied against the growth and promotion of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the PSA read.

Authorities haven’t singled out any specific cities or locations that could be targeted. But according to NYC Pride, organizers of the city’s official festivities, some 2 million people flock to the Big Apple every year to participate in events across the five boroughs.

The PSA also didn’t mention any threats posed by domestic organizations.

A report by GLAAD released last year found at least 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism — including harassment, vandalism and assault — during last year’s celebrations.

That’s more than three times the number of incidents reported during Pride 2022.