Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has described the Orlando murders as an “attack” on both LGBT people and humanity itself.
Ms Zappone, a US citizen and LGBT campaigner, was among those to voiced condemnation of the massacre in a gay nightclub in Florida, which has claimed the lives of 49 people. The gunman wounded 53 others in the shooting on Sunday.
Ireland’s three national LGBT organisations held a vigil in Dublin yesterday in solidarity with the victims and their families.
Ms Zappone said people must stand up against such terror attacks and hoped it would force the US government into tightening gun laws.
“I am just extremely distressed, I suppose, both as someone who has been an advocate for LGBT issues here but especially now I speak personally as an American citizen. It’s a terrible, terrible day for America,” she said.
“Anyone who goes in and sprays a gun at 50 people and kills them and then moves on to hold a number of people at gunpoint and holds them as hostages for three hours and then phones the police and boasts about what he has done, that’s got to be a crime against the people that he is doing that to, as well as all of humanity.”
Speaking at the launch of the ‘It’s Good to Talk’ campaign in conjunction with the LGBT Helpline and Eir, Ms Zappone said people should “stand tall and resist” such attacks.
She agreed LGBT people would feel under attack as a result of the mass murder.
“Yes, of course they would feel under attack,” she said. “I feel it, I think it is something to do with our identity, but at the same time we live in a country where we are freer today than we were a year ago.
“Obviously LGBT people don’t have freedom throughout the world and that’s why it’s so critical and important that those of us who do and experience equality stand up in solidarity and say ‘no’ and resist that, and express our horror in relation to what has happened.”
Ms Zappone said US gun ownership laws still have to be addressed and she hoped that this horrific incident would act as a catalyst for change.
“Hopefully, once again, this will be an occasion where once and for all we can challenge the gun lobby in the United States of America,” she said.
Yesterday, LGBT groups BeLonG To, Glen, and TENI released a joint statement in which they said gay nightclubs such as Pulse, where the murders occurred, had always been “the beating heart of many LGBT+ people’s social lives” and that “sanctuary” had now come under attack.
“It’s understandable to feel a mixture of emotions after an event as violent as this, but let’s not be afraid,” they stated.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the violence committed against the LGBT community in Orlando was “sickening”.
“We echo President Obama’s sentiments that this was an act of terror and hate and must do everything we can to defeat this dreadful threat,” he said.
“We will succeed in the end by undermining this twisted narrative of hatred with a new understanding between the West and the Middle East.”
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