South African LGBTI groups have expressed their shock and outrage at Sunday’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub.
In a joint statement, the organisations told Orlando’s LGBTI community: “We stand in solidarity with you. You are in our thoughts and prayers.”
They said: “To those who hate; the individuals, the governments, the religious leaders and others who condemn and separate: Hear us when we say that we will not be cowed or intimidated.”
Below is the full joint statement:
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in South Africa is shocked and horrified by the terrible and senseless killings of the innocent human lives of our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Orlando, Florida. We wish to express our outrage at and condemnation of the hate-fuelled violence that affects the entire LGBTI and non-LGBTI community, not only in Orlando, but worldwide.
Our deepest sympathies go out to the people of Orlando who have lost sons, daughters, family, friends, colleagues, lovers, husbands, wives. We mourn the lost lives, and we send our condolences. We know this will never be enough, but know that we stand in solidarity with you. You are in our thoughts and prayers. May the bodies, minds and hearts of all those who survived be granted strength to fight on and live.
The massacre has taken place in June, marked around world as Pride Month; a time during which we commemorate and celebrate LGBTI people who have lived and struggled for equality and freedom for all people. These killings show a lack of understanding of all our struggles for a better life for everyone.
For too long the rhetoric of hate and mistrust, of condemnation and rejection has been allowed to prosper, and those who perpetuate words of hate should hang their heads in shame today. Directly or indirectly, your words have resulted in this senseless and tragic event.
As South Africans we understand the continuing violence, attacks, rape and killing of our loved ones, even though our rights as equal citizens are protected by our Constitution. We understand your pain and sorrow today, as our loved ones too have been taken from us too soon.
We urge the South African Government to speed up the formulation of the Hate Crimes Bill so as to help prevent a similar incident in our beloved country.
We urge the American Government and other governments around the world to work to ensure that such hate crimes are not promoted or allowed to manifest in their countries.
And to our US brothers, sisters and trans* and gender non-conforming family: Today we cry with you. Your sadness is our sadness. Your loss is our loss. Your pain is our pain.
To those who hate; the individuals, the governments, the religious leaders and others who condemn and separate: Hear us when we say that we will not be cowed or intimidated. We are all part of the human race. We will continue to stand proud, supporting our LGBTI family, helping, consoling, and defending if necessary. We will continue and we will persevere, no matter where in the world we are.
Today we rise up once again, out and proud. And although the tears are streaking down our faces, we stand tall. We stand strong. A Luta Continua.
This statement is supported by:
Access Chapter 2
Anova Health Institute, Health4Men and WeTheBrave
Cape Town Pride / OUTReach Africa
Durban Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
The Feather Awards SA / Thami Dish Foundation
Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA)
Gay & Lesbian Network, Pietermaritzburg
Love Not Hate campaign
The Other Foundation
OUT LGBT Well-being
Pride Shelter Trust