Statement from Interim Leader of the Opposition Flor Marcelino on the tragedy of the Orlando shootings

All our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones in the Orlando massacre yesterday, as well as to the injured and those who witnessed the tragedy unfold.

This was an act of homophobic violence against the LGBTTQ* community—not only in Orlando, but for communities and individuals around the world.

Here in Manitoba, we worry about our LGBTTQ* youth, who are now witnessing an event of this magnitude for the first time. There must be many who are feeling vulnerable and terrified.

Today we want to tell these youth: we will not tolerate homophobia of any kind in Manitoba, and we will support you as allies in the struggle for acceptance and freedom from fear.

We all need to stand with the LGBTTQ* community and make it clear that they are accepted and safe to be who they are.

For many in the LGBTTQ* community, gay bars are a place of safety, a place where you can be yourself, a place where you can safely hold your partner’s hand, a place where it does not matter which bathroom you use, a place where you can know you are not alone.

Yesterday’s tragic events have threatened those safe spaces and the LGBTTQ* community will need all allies to stand up and help them reclaim their spaces.

Violence and fear are daily experiences for many people in the LGBTTQ* community. There are groups in Manitoba that are threatening their right to be themselves. There are hateful, ignorant things said, unchallenged, every single day against LGBTTQ* people.

Love is love. And every member of this NDP Caucus will continue to stand up and support the LGBTTQ* community.

In the wise words of Harvey Milk: “Hope will never be silent.”