Message from Ro Allen, Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality

The shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando during the early hours of Sunday morning is a shocking and heartbreaking tragedy. The 49 reported killed and 53 wounded were LGBTI community members and allies. These people were doing what many in our communities do on a typical Saturday night – getting together to dance and socialise in what should have been a safe space. The shooting was a senseless act of violence that we all condemn.

The violation of that safe space by a man armed with a semi-automatic weapon is a violation felt by LGBTI communities across the world. The experience of stepping into a gay bar for the first time is a universal one. Stepping into a gay bar represents leaving behind what can be an intolerant and violent outside world, and entering a place where you can be whoever you are. Gay bars are one of the many kinds of safe spaces that allow us to be ourselves, together, and flourish.

In light of the tragedy in Orlando, we must be vigilant to protect our safe spaces. As the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, I commit to continue working to create and protect safe spaces for LGBTI Victorians. Hatred of any kind, whether it be homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, is unacceptable and must be stamped out. My vision is for the whole of Victoria to be a safe space for our LGBTI communities.

I feel deeply at this time for the families of those killed. Most of those killed were young people in the prime of their lives. I hope that the last interactions these families had with their loved ones were positive. Senseless tragedies such as this one highlight how important it is for families to not let homophobia, biphobia or transphobia create barriers between them and their loved ones. I urge all families in Victoria to reach out to their LGBTI loved ones in light of this tragedy.

We are all hurting at this time. We stand in solidarity with our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Orlando and beyond. We are here for you, and here for each other.

I encourage you to express your condolences for the people of Orlando by visiting Bourke Street condolences.

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