Faith leaders in the Victorian community have issued a statement calling for an end to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. The statement was in response to a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which claimed the lives of 49 people.
Signatories include VicTas moderator Rev Sharon Hollis and representatives from the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Christian community.
“The incredible violence against innocent LGBTI community members in Orlando is deplored in the strongest possible terms. There is no excuse for such appalling and evil actions, driven by hate and intolerance,” the statement reads.
“As faith leaders in the Victorian community, we recognise the sanctity of every human life. Every community member is entitled to live their lives free of fear, bullying, intimidation or violence.
“Everyone, of any sexual orientation or gender identity should be treated with respect and dignity. The physical health, safety and mental health of all Victorian community members is of vital importance. To this end, we call for all faith communities and community members to take a strong stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”
Earlier this week, Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan released a message in response to the Orlando massacre. Mr McMillan challenged Uniting Church members to reject homophobia in all its forms and accept LGBTIQ people as full members of our church.
In Melbourne, there will be a vigil in solidarity with the people at Orlando at Federation Square on Thursday 16 June at 5pm. An interfaith service will be held at 6pm at St Paul’s Cathedral, which Ms Hollis plans to attend on behalf of the synod.
Rowena Allen, Victoria’s commissioner for gender and sexuality and a member of the Uniting Church, expressed her condolences for those affected by the shooting.
“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,” Ms Allen said.
“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.”
You can post a message of condolence to the people of Orlando here.
Image by Victoria Pickering via Flickr.