Metro Manila Pride is appalled and saddened over the mass shooting that claimed 50 lives and injured 54 more at the LGBT nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families and loved ones of those victimized by this horrifying crime.

As we join the rest of the world in mourning the lives lost to what is being described as “the most deadly shooting in American history,” we are reminded of the stark reality that this violence against persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other sexual orientations and gender identities (LGBTQIA+) exists in the Philippines as well.

Justice Spelled out with Candles on a Rainbow Flag taken at National Day of Outrage for the death of Jennifer Laude - Hate Crimes

“JUSTICE” spelled out with candles on a rainbow flag taken at the National Day of Outrage event held in Quezon City after the death of Jennifer Laude. (2014, L. ORDOÑO)

 

In 2014, the country was rocked by the brutal murder of Jennifer Laude by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton. In the last month alone, two members of our community, Ashley Anne Reilly and Jimmy Vosotros, were murdered. The now defunct Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch documented 103 suspected hate-crime deaths of LGBT people from 1998-2011.

What is alarming is that these are only the reported deaths. So many more go undocumented.

This is worsened by the fact that we do not need to look far for these atrocities. Local studies report that violence against LGBTQIA+ people begin and are most horrifying in the home.

Now more than ever, we are reminded that Pride isn’t just a colorful parade and a party to celebrate our authentic selves while surrounded by the people that love us. It is a political statement against the hostility our community is subjected to, an outcry about the rights that we are denied, and the lives that continue to be lost to senseless violence. It is a time where LGBTQIA + people, their families, their loved ones, and their allies unite against hate.

While we are all crying and hurting for strangers we do not know, we are ultimately scared for everyone we do know. LGBTQIA + people are your brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, aunts, uncles, co-workers, and more. We are human beings who only yearn to live and love freely and without fear.

Pride isn’t just a colorful parade. It is a political statement against the hostility our community is subjected to, an outcry about the rights that we are denied, and the lives that continue to be lost to senseless violence.

Today we mourn but we will not look away. We will face this head on, stronger than ever, united in a much-bigger fight–the struggle for our recognition as human beings who deserve the same rights and privileges afforded to all regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual characteristics (SOGIE-SC).

We will not tiptoe around these issues. We strongly condemn these crimes driven by prejudice against persons of diverse SOGIE-SC. Let us call a hate crime a hate crime and bring justice to all members of our community whose lives were taken from us because of bigotry and hate.

As we continue planning for the 2016 Metro Manila Pride Festival on June 25 at the Lapu-Lapu Monument in Luneta Park, we will continue to work with our team, members of the LGBTQIA + activist community, and the City of Manila to hold a festival where safety is a priority.

Until then, we call for courage over pain. We call for unity. We call for hope. We call for love. We are all we have.

Let’s not allow hate to fill our hearts and minds no matter how painful and scared we all are. Let’s Let Love In.

 

In Solidarity,

Metro Manila Pride

13 June 2016

Quezon City, Metro Manila

 

Metro Manila Pride (MMP), a volunteer-managed, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization whose aim is to create safe space for LGBTQIA+ persons in Metro Manila. MMP also plans and produces the annual, community driven Metro Manila Pride Campaigns and the longest-running Pride March in Asia. For more information about this year’s Pride March and Festival, click here.

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