Howlin condemns Orlando gun murders
Speaking during Order of Business in Dail Eireann
Coming just over a year after the joyous scenes that followed the passage of the Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland, the appalling crimes carried out in Pulse nightclub in Orlando late on Sunday night serve as a stark reminder to us all of the need to maintain a relentless focus on building equality for LGBT people.
These crimes must be condemned for what they were – appalling hate crimes against LGBT people.
Great progress has been made over recent decades in the western world, as we have moved towards a vindication of the rights of LGBT people. But the horrific events of Saturday night must remind us of the need to avoid complacency.
In Ireland, research tells us that one third of LGBT people have been physically or sexually attacked, and half have been harassed in the last five years. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these attacks go unreported – only 17 homophobic incidents were registered on the Garda Pulse system in 2013.
Now is the time for a National LGBT strategy that examines all of the needs of this community in Ireland – from tackling hate crimes and workplace discrimination, to meeting the needs of older LGBT people and continuing to reform our education system to stamp out discrimination at all levels.
On behalf of the Labour Party, I want to extend my sympathy and solidarity to all those affected by the events of Saturday night.