A grocery store in Pennsylvania was subjected to protests after displaying a sign accusing LGBTQ people of spreading “deadly diseases and sickness.”
Wenger’s Grocery Outlet, in Mifflinburg, Penn., caused outrage last month after creating a sign asking customers to be respectful of those choosing not to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It featured misinformation about the coronavirus, in addition to anti-LGBTQ language accusing LGBTQ people of living a sinful lifestyle.
The sign questioned the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to more than 114,000 people becoming infected and more than 7,200 deaths in the state, and suggested that the virus was a “political agenda.”
It also featured a fake quote from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claiming that the New York congresswoman had urged for businesses to remain closed until after November to harm Donald Trump’s re-election chances.
But it was a section at the bottom about LGBTQ people that drew particular ire from locals, the Daily Item reports. It accused LGBTQ people of living a “lifestyle” of “sin,” and accused them of spreading “deadly diseases and sickness.”
“There are people who got covid19 and not all the others living in the same house got it,” the sign said. “This proves that covid19 IS NOT AS CONTAGIOUS AS THE NEWS MEDIA AND MANY OTHERS HAVE BLOWN IT UP TO BE.
“A lot of these same people support LGBTQ. This lifestyle is sin in God’s eyes and spreads deadly diseases and sicknesses.”
After heavy criticism, the sign was removed and employees in the store began to wear face masks, according to Daily Item.
“I hope they did it for the right reasons,” one resident said. “I’m glad they took down the horrible sign and I’m hoping they apologize for the comment about the LGBTQ community.”
Patricia Arduini, president of the Susquehanna Valley Ethical Society (SVES), told Daily Item that she hoped Mark Wenger, owner of the grocery store, had removed the sign and implemented masks after further researching the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m also still not hearing a meaningful acknowledgment or apology to the LGBTQ community,” Arduini said. “It was a very divisive statement and not appropriate in uniting a community.”
After the removal of the sign, a Pride rally was held in the street outside the store. Dozens of activists and allies lined the town’s main street, wearing coordinated t-shirts in small groups to form the colors of the Pride flag.
Speaking to FOX56, I Am Alliance founder Victoria Mathews — who helped organize the rally — said those who attended were “here to love…not for hate,” and hoped the show of support for LGBTQ people would “bring unity and a greater understanding.”
“I am a gay man in central PA who grew up here, around here,” Trevor Leon, who attended the rally, told FOX56. “It’s hard.”
Leon added: “Some little gay kid growing up here in Central PA is going to see this and see all the support and hopefully it helps.”
Counter-protesters in cars featuring Confederate and U.S. flags circled the location of the rally, revving their engines and blasting horns.
One van featured a sign saying, “Obey sodom = takeover + annihilation,” while many of those attending the counter-protest expressed their support for Donald Trump.
“Doesn’t mean we don’t love them,” Carl Schreck, a counter-protester, said. “It just means it’s sin. My sin’s no different than her sin, but God says you should not be a homosexual.”
Wenger has yet to publicly comment on the sign, or the subsequent criticism of his store.
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