Calgary

Orlando shooting prompts Alberta minister to vow continued fight for visibility

Alberta’s NDP government will continue to promote inclusion and visibility for the province’s LGBTQ community in the wake of the deadly shooting at an Orlando gay bar, says the minister of culture and tourism.

Ricardo Miranda was at Calgary gay bar for fundraiser with Premier Notley hours before Florida shooting

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando. (Steve Nesius/Reuters)

Alberta's NDP government will continue to promote inclusion and visibility for the province's LGBTQ community in the wake of the deadly shooting at an Orlando gay bar, says the minister of culture and tourism.

Ricardo Miranda was at a fundraiser at a gay bar in Calgary with Premier Rachel Notley and the other two LGBTQ members of the caucus — Michael Connolly and Estefania Cortes-Vargas — just hours before a man killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at the nightclub in Florida.

 "It's heartbreaking. I think that's the only word I can say. Heartbreaking."

Miranda said the Saturday night event in Calgary had seemed like such a positive milestone for the LGBTQ community until news broke about the mass killings in Florida.

Ricardo Miranda, Alberta's tourism minister, says the tragedy in Florida underlines the need for members of the LGBTQ community to stand tall. (CBC)

"In one second I was feeling overjoyed … with a sense of happiness, and then to have such a horrific experience happen to the same community … I don't know that I can have the adequate words to describe that feeling," Miranda said.

"Members of the community were just overwhelmed about the fact that in Calgary, Alberta, the Premier of Alberta was in a gay bar having a beer with everybody else."

As the world comes to terms with the tragedy in Orlando and the hatred that it represents, Miranda says it will be vital for LGBTQ communities to continue to be visible and vocal as they continue to advance their rights.

And the provincial government is behind them, he said.

"In this province, right now, every member of the LGBTQ community can feel welcomed here," he said.

The executive director of the Calgary Outlink Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, Kelly Ernst, said his group will stage "Take back the bar" events in response to the deadly nightclub attack.

A resilient community 

"We cannot let such people win by taking away such safe places for our community," he said. 

Ernst said there's no reason to believe the Orlando attack will put a damper on the gay pride parade in Calgary in September.

"You have to remember that pride parades were created in response to communities that were not safe," he said.

"You need to think of this as a very resilient community and these horrible actions are not going to stop the LGBT community."

Calgary Imam Syed Taha says the Orlando attack was the act of a disturbed and twisted person.

He says while many Muslims see homosexuality as sinful, the teachings of Islam do no call for violence against members of the gay community.

"No human being has been given the right to force somebody or hurt somebody for what they're doing," he said.

"We're not responsible for forcing people, or hurting people who don't follow our way of life."

According to Miranda, the presence of three gay MLAs in the Notley government has been seen in the LGBTQ community as a sign of progress.

"I think, we, just being there, at the table, at the decision-making table, having a crucial role in governance of the province, I think, is a huge step for our community," he said. 

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