The BCGEU expresses deep sorrow at the brutal hate crime which occurred in Orlando, Florida this past weekend and sends condolences to the families of the more than 100 innocent people who were killed and seriously injured at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning.
Much of the news coverage has focused on allegations of extremist religious motives. But this was not an act of terrorism, although the effects reverberate fear across the LGBTQ+ community. This was a hate crime, exacerbated by a culture of intolerance and a lack of responsible gun control measures.
When politicians and political candidates are given license to promote racism, religious prejudice and homophobia, it fosters a culture of hate.
When people are allowed to purchase guns without a background check and with little or no public scrutiny, inevitably acts of violence will follow.
Canada is also not immune to hate crimes, despite progressive legislation and a reputation for tolerance. According to Statistics Canada, 1,414 hate-motivated criminal incidents were reported in 2012. Of those, 52 per cent were racially or ethnically motivated, 30 per cent were based on religious discrimination and 13 per cent had homophobic roots.
But the LGBTQ+ community has a long history of resisting oppression and bigotry, going back to the Stonewall rebellion against repressive police raids in 1969. Last night there were vigils around the world to show support for the Orlando shooting victims, their friends and families.
The tragedy in Orlando is a stark reminder of intolerance in our society and fuels our determination to continue to fight for universal equity and human rights in Canada and around the world.
Over the next few months, Pride events will be taking place across the province. Please join in the events and help send a message that intolerance, discrimination and hatred have no place in our society. Celebrate diversity and make our world a place of acceptance, respect and freedom.