June 17th, 2016

Reflections on the mass shooting in Orlando

by Randall Garrison, NDP Critic for LGBTQ Issues

People around the world have come together to mourn and to rally together after the recent mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 people dead and 53 others injured. The incident came as a shock to all, not just because of the number of victims but also because of its clear targeting of the LGBTQ community. In all the speculation about how this could happen, we must never forget that this was an attack rooted in homophobia and transphobia.

Unfortunately, we still live in a time were homophobia and transphobia are a lived reality for members of the LGBTQ community everywhere. Even in Canada we still have a long way to go in making communities safe for all of us. We have made important strides in protecting gay and lesbian rights in legislation and under the Charter of Rights, but equally important is building public support for a more inclusive Canada free from everyday homophobic and transphobic bullying and violence. This would be a good time to close the gap in our legal protections for transgender and non-binary Canadians by passing Bill C-16, not just as an important legal matter, but as an important statement of Canadian values.

It is not enough just to stand in solidarity with Orlando as so many have done. We must continue to work together to combat homophobia and transphobia in Canada and abroad. We must not allow ourselves to get diverted by those who would deflect from our collective responsibility by blaming a single community when the problem unfortunately remains part of all our communities. Islamophobia in no way advances the struggle against homophobia and transphobia.

So let’s renew our commitment to join hands and work together for a more inclusive world where we can all live and love in peace and safety. Together we are stronger and in the end love is stronger than hate.