CUPE Ontario statement of solidarity with the LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida

CUPE Ontario is devastated by the horrific mass shooting that targeted the LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning. The loss of life and the pain left behind for family and friends will leave a permanent scar in their community, their country and our world.

Through struggle, we have achieved major advancements in the rights of LGBTQ people in Canada.  This we celebrate with pride, but we must never become complacent. Events like this one in Florida serve as a tragic reminder that building an inclusive society that embraces our differences is a continuous struggle.  We know that homophobia and transphobia, even with all the gains that have been made, are still an everyday reality for too many in Canada.  And that this horrific situation in Orlando seems also very much to be about race, given the venue was holding a “Hispanic night”.  

We cannot allow the events of yesterday to fan the flames of religious intolerance. Two vulnerable communities, the Muslim and LGBTQ communities are very much impacted here.  The complicated intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity means we must be mindful of our shared solidarity in seeking justice for all. 

We will likely never know what drove the shooter to such a hateful act, but we do know that there are not enough mental health treatment services available to those who need them, and we do know that guns are far too easily available in the United States. We hope desperately that their governments will come together to fix these problems. And that out of this horrible event will not come more hate — but instead a collective resolve to understand that “Love is Love” – and that it is much better and stronger than hate.

CUPE Ontario’s 258,000 members are in absolute solidarity with the millions of people all around the world who are choosing to respond to this atrocity by coming together in whatever forums they can to say: We will not allow fear and hate to win. We will live our lives with hope, tolerance and love.