Perth shows support for Orlando

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Hundreds of people attended Perth’s candlelight vigil to remember and honour the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Forty nine members of the local community stood before a crowd of over 500 people, each holding a sign with the name and photograph of one of the victims of the horrific tragedy. For two minutes the crowd stood in silence and honoured those who lost their lives.

Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum appeared together and shared their thoughts on the horrific crime and how it had affected LGBTIQ+ people and their allies across the globe.

Lynn MacLaren, The Greens MLC for the South Metro region delivered a speech with Labor colleagues Stephen Dawson and Lisa Baker at her side, federal Liberal senator Dean Smith attended, and Farida Iqbal from the Socialist Alliance also spoke.

One of the evenings most poignant moments came when Labor’s senate candidate Louise Pratt spoke alongside Anne Aly, the party’s candidate for the seat of Cowan. Aly, the normally composed counter terrorism expert, was visibly upset and shared the tragedy had hit close to home as her stepson is gay.

“I’m thankful for our wonderful, vibrant, resilient, defiant community.” Pratt said. “Our LGBTIQ+ community that comes together in love.”

Embracing Aly, Pratt continued, “It makes me very thankful for my Muslim sister.” It was a declaration that brought loud cheers from the crowd.

Pratt said the events of the previous few days had reminded the community of the need to continue fighting back against bigotry and violence.

“By doing this we pay tribute to all who lost through this violent act.” Pratt said.

Pratt thanked Connections owner Tim Brown for providing a safe space for gay and lesbian people in Western Australia.

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Speaking to the crowd Aly said she’s spent the last 15 years of her life fighting against hate. Holding back tears, Aly said that despite being filled with despair there is always hope.

“Even when it seems that humanity is hellbent on destroying itself, there is always hope.” Aly said, pausing vefore repeating, “There is hope.”

“You’re not alone. We can defeat this. We can defeat hatred, we can. We do it by staying together, we do it with solidarity and we do it by standing up and saying ‘We won’t take this anymore. We won’t be part of your hatred. We won’t be part of your division. We will stand together, we stand proud, hand in hand, arms in arm.” Aly said.

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Lynn MacLaren, the Greens MLC for the South Metro region said news of the shooting had left her feeling shocked, frightened and despaired.

MacLaren said even though Western Australia was half a world away from Orlando, Florida, we felt connected to the experience of LGBT suffering through hatred. MacLaren said gay clubs had always been refuges for gay people where we could just be ourselves.

Noting the different clubs and bars that had provided safe spaces for the LGBTIQ+ community over the decades MacLaren said these are important spaces where people celebrate community.

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“We get together to feel safe and enjoy ourselves in a place where there is no judgement, there is no prejudice and there is no hatred. That’s why important to have these save spaces that are important to us.”

MacLaren said the fact that this attack had happened during the USA’s Pride Month in one of these safe spaces is what had affected LGBTIQ+ people around the world.

Flanked by Labor politicians Lisa Baker and Stephen Dawson, and backed by the Gay and Lesbian Singers of WA, MacLaren lead the crowd in a sorrowful rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome”.

Watch Lynn MacLaren’s speech below.

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