Orlando – We are by your side

Colleagues

In Birmingham we see diversity as a core asset; we invite, celebrate and promote difference because it’s what makes life so rich and rewarding. Orlando, and all the other dreadful events we have had to confront in recent times, demonstrate that you can’t take anything forgranted however. The freedom to be who you want to be, whilst doing no harm to others, has to be defended. In a city proud to advertise that it is a place of sanctuary we need to be clear that we go further than this: we also aspire to be a city of active tolerance, understanding, peace, love and mutual respect.

Presently it is the LGBT+ community that we are standing up for. But everyday we should stand up for everyone who values the richness of difference to be found in Birmingham.

Today I am (again, sadly) reminded of the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller. If you don’t know them, look them up. But I suspect that you do.

Mark

The following is taken from the council’s LGBT+Allies Network. Sign-up to the network’s mailing list

As you may be aware there has been a shock wave delivered to the LGBT+ community around the world with the news on Sunday 12th June of a gun attack in the Florida LGBT nightclub, Pulse.  This is the worst mass shooting in the history of the USA.  It has been widely reported that over 100 people were shot with almost half of them losing their life.  The sad news has affected many people in the Orlando community; and a sense of loss and solidarity has rippled around the globe affecting LGBT people, their families, friends and allies.

The people of Birmingham and staff from the City Council are not unaffected and spontaneous messages and demonstrations of support and solidarity have already been made.

On Monday, a rainbow flag, which has long been a symbol for the LGBT+ community, was flown at half-mast outside the Council House in Victoria square.

Birmingham City Council Leader, Cllr John Clancy and Cabinet Member for Transparency, Openness and Equality, Cllr Waseem Zaffar both posted video messages which you can watch below and attended a vigil on Monday night at 10pm organised by Birmingham Pride Director, Lawrence Barton and members of the community.

At 9pm on Monday evening, the Library of Birmingham was lit up in rainbow colours in a show of solidarity.

The vigil outside the Nightingale Club on Kent St on Monday night was attended by over a thousand people and included the release of 49 balloons for the 49 victims that lost their lives.

Speakers included Councillor Lisa Trickett and Birmingham Pride Trustees Steve Ball and Steve Bedser and other attendees also included councillors from all political parties and community leaders.

Photos of the vigil have been reproduced with thanks to Adam Yosef / I Am Birmingham. A full album can be found on the I Am Birmingham facebook page

There was true sense of unity as people from all parts of the community demonstrated their shock and support for the victims and those close to them.

There was true sense of unity as people from all parts of the community demonstrated their shock and support for the victims and those close to them.

vigil

Hannah Stocking (pictured left), a social worker in the Fostering Support Team and LGBT Network Steering Group member told us:

“It has been a heart breaking time for the LGBT community. For me it was important to attend the vigil in Birmingham to show my respects to those who lost their lives and to show that the LGBT community in Birmingham stands in solidarity with the communities in Orlando and across the world. The events in Orlando are a stark reminder that as a community we can experience homophobia on multiple levels. I believe that visibility is an essential aspect of raising awareness and acceptance for the LGBT community and other communities alike. As a community we are united in tackling homophobia. Be proud of who you are!”

Tributes, words of comfort and sadness have been appearing on social media in response to this tragedy from staff, councillors and the community.
If you feel affected by the events and would like to show your support there is another vigil planned for Saturday 18th June from 1pm at the Birmingham LGBT Centre and the Pagoda Island on Holloway Circus.  More details are on the event page

A book of condolences being produced by the Hope-Not-Hate organisation, details can be found here:  http://action.hopenothate.org.uk/page/s/orlando

vigil2

As further information about the background of the gunman emerges, common issues affecting the LGBT community become pertinent, like: faith and sexual orientation, internalised homophobia and domestic abuse.  If you would like more information or support with issues affecting the LGBT community then please support each other through our network of LGBT Allies in person or reach out via the employee forum on Yammer, or other social media such as Twitter, Facebook (see links below); or email LGBT@birmingham.gov.uk.  The Birmingham LGBT Centre also offers a range of services with a team of trained staff who provide advice, guidance and practical support, further details on their website http://www.blgbt.org

Thank you for already showing support for your colleagues, citizens and LGBT+ people everywhere by signing up as an LGBT Ally and for reading this newsletter!  Please talk to your colleagues and share the newsletter with them.

As shocking as this recent event is, there are still many LGBT people in this city and in this country in challenging situations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Our thoughts are also with those in countries where being an LGBT person puts their life in danger every single day, through abuse, neglect, torture and execution.

Please continue to show your support, as peaceful change can be achieved by us all doing just one thing. I chose to write this article… what will you do?”

David Board: Programme Coordinator – Birmingham City Council.

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Posted on June 16, 2016, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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