OutRight Action International honors and remembers the victims of the shooting on Latin Night at Pulse Club in Orlando one year ago. We are still deeply saddened by the loss of 49 lives and injuries to more than 50 others in the ISIS-claimed attack; an attack which was an act of hate and violence against LGBTIQ persons and our fundamental dignity.
However, we are also proud to see the immense efforts to heal undertaken by the Orlando community and the solidarity from around the world in the year since the massacre. Worldwide condemnation of the attack was loud and for the most part recognized that violence and persecution of the LGBTIQ community is pervasive and must be put to an end. Many LGBTIQ communities around the world felt the attack on a personal level, knowing it could have happened to them. Many felt the familiarity of being at a club, dancing with other LGBTIQ people. Through our global partners, we at OutRight saw acts of solidarity in cities from all around the world.
The aftermath of the Orlando shooting also saw the first-ever statement by the United Nation’s Security Council referencing sexual orientation, denouncing the attack and acknowledging that it was anti-gay biased. This important statement sets precedence in the international peace and security arena that queer lives matter, and they are being targeted; a matter of international concern.
However, we all know that there remains much to be done in the wake of the shooting in the United States and globally. The underlying issues that contributed to the shooting remain unresolved, and has indeed increased, in the past year. Both state-sponsored and individual acts of homophobia and transphobia are far too common in the US and worldwide. In the US, the administration is rolling back protections for trans students and undermining international systems and structures that have contributed to providing safety and services for LGBTIQ people. Internationally we have seen many examples of arrests, torture and even killings of LGBTIQ people, as can be seen by the recently reported detention of men presumed to be gay in Chechnya and Indonesia.
All around the world LGBTIQ people’s, arguably all people’s, rights to exist, to assemble, to express themselves are being targeted. With greater visibility and demands of equality of and by the LGBTIQ community, we are also seeing drastic pushback aimed at erasing our lives and silencing our rights through force and threats. Issues impacting the LGBTIQ community are heightened by anti-Muslim, xenophobic, anti-women sentiments in the US and beyond, as exemplified by President Trumps “Muslim travel ban,” the consequences of which are devastating and far reaching. The idea that anti-Muslim policies would make society safer is a forced illusion; we feel, and are, no safer with policies that put white-supremacy on a pedestal and oppress minority communities in any way.
To prevent more attacks against the LGBTIQ and Muslim communities, we must work to resolve issues that affect all disenfranchised communities around the world. We must continue not to conflate the actions of one man, or ISIS affiliates and sympathizers, with all Muslims, we must fight against Islamophobia the marginalization and villainization it propagates. And we must not pit minorities against each other, but rather stand together in solidarity against bigotry, violence, and discrimination everywhere. Indeed, OutRight Action International has joined 58 other LGBTIQ, Muslim, and Latinx communities in a unity statement in commemoration of the first day of remembrance of the massacre.
We need a peaceful, community-driven, and global strategy to continue healing from events like the massacre at Pulse and prevent further violent crimes against LGBTIQ people, Muslims, and LGBTIQ Muslims globally.
To the people of Orlando, especially the families and loved ones of the victims of last year’s massacre, we are still with you. To members of the LGBTIQ, Muslim and LGBTIQ Muslim communities and allies around the world, we are with you in the fight for human rights everywhere. And as we did last year, we urge friends and allies to celebrate Pride with joy, love, and fearlessness.