Scottish Parliament honours Orlando victims and stands with LGBTI community

The horrific murders in Orlando on Sunday have upset me greatly. To see one particular group of people targeted only for who they are is just awful. On a typical Saturday night, many of my friends will be in gay clubs and bars, enjoying themselves in exactly the same way those people were in Pulse. Euan and Jenny have already written about their reactions to this crime of homophobic hatred.

It gets me very time I see those texts from the young man to his mother from his hiding place. She must have felt so powerless to help her child.

It’s so important to understand the shock and sadness felt by the LGBTI community. We must acknowledge that and never allow it to be airbrushed out as US politicians focus on the racist notions of the Republican nominee and yet another argument over gun control. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well beyond time for gun control, but we need to make space for the LGBTI voices to be heard.

Many of my friends have commented that few of their work colleagues have appreciated how they are feeling about this attack on their community. It’s not just another remote shooting in a far flung part of the world.

I was particularly struck by John Peart’s blog to his heterosexual friends which was shared by my friend Stephen on Facebook:

It hurts because it’s not so different from the violence we experience every day. Until you’ve been scared to hold your partner’s hand in public, unless you’ve faced fear of revealing yourself to those closest to you; you can sympathise, but you can’t understand.

This hurts because whilst families and our community are grieving, the media is denying our collective identity.

The world around us tries to politicise every part of our lives as an LGBT community: our fundamental rights, who we can marry, whether we can donate blood. And yet, the rare occasion we want our community to be at the forefront of politics, the politics of hate is erased from the discussion.

This wasn’t “America’s Bataclan”. It wasn’t an attack on ‘the West’ or Western culture. This attack was specific. Pre-meditated. Fuelled by a hatred of people like me.

This hurts because so many remain silent when usually they are most vocal. They’ll mourn the death of a gorilla but they won’t mourn 50 dead LGBT people.

He concludes on a similar note to my instinctive reaction to the murders:

I took part, from home, in the minute’s silence for Orlando which took place in the Scottish Parliament. I found it and the subsequent statements from party leaders very moving and was almost in tears at some points. Last week the annual Scottish hate crime figures were released. They showed an increase in homophobic and transphobic incidents. There was some discussion around these in the Parliament yesterday afternoon, with remarkable consensus. We are remarkably lucky to live in a country where all the party leaders in our Parliament just get it. That, of course, set me off thinking about the many millions of LGBTI people who live in countries where that is not the case, and they face persecution or worse. But even in a country that is one of the best places in the world to be LGBTI, the number of hate crimes shows that there is still work to be done. I want to see all schools becoming places where LGBTI kids can feel safe and comfortable and all teachers trained in making sure that happens. Willie Rennie said:

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I express our deep sadness at the horrific events in Orlando. I agree with the First Minister that there was some comfort from the darkness in the crowds gathering in cities not just in the United Kingdom but across the world. Does the First Minister agree that one of the most powerful signals that we can send would be to accelerate our programmes on equality for all the LGBTI community? All of us in the Parliament have common programmes that we want to deliver. Let us use this incident to accelerate those programmes, so that we send the strongest possible signal to haters and terrorists that we will not be intimidated.

Alex Cole-Hamilton has put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament showing solidarity with the victims in Orlando and the LGBTI community:

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I express our deep sadness at the horrific events in Orlando. I agree with the First Minister that there was some comfort from the darkness in the crowds gathering in cities not just in the United Kingdom but across the world. Does the First Minister agree that one of the most powerful signals that we can send would be to accelerate our programmes on equality for all the LGBTI community? All of us in the Parliament have common programmes that we want to deliver. Let us use this incident to accelerate those programmes, so that we send the strongest possible signal to haters and terrorists that we will not be intimidated.

I’m going to be at the vigil tonight in St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh. If you’re around, it’s in St Andrew’s Square at 7pm.  If you are in town, you are welcome to come and join the 2,300 people who have already said they are going.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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2 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jun '16 - 10:39pm

    Murder.

  • John Barrett 16th Jun '16 - 11:29pm

    Having just returned from Florida visiting relatives very close to Orlando, one advert I saw in a local paper which was for locals and visitors, was to experience using automatic weapons under supervision and to “feel the adrenalin flowing when using a machine gun”.

    If this is how people spend their leisure time, is it any wonder that the end result of the availability of such weapons leads to slaughter on this scale?

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