As our nation remembers the 49 lives taken in the horrific shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando five years ago on June 12, Hispanic Federation is standing with their families, the survivors, and Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities against hate by calling for policy changes to prevent such massacres from happening again.
“From the Pulse massacre to the mass shooting in El Paso targeting Mexicans and immigrants, gun violence and hate crimes against historically oppressed groups, including Latino/x and LGBTQ+ communities, continues to be a major concern. In 2019, Latinos accounted for nearly half of all hate-motivated killings as the overall numbers reached an eleven-year high. At the same time, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups increased by 43 percent in 2019. Yet today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues to callously push hateful anti-LGBTQ+ legislation through the state. We must unite and call out this behavior for what it is, a green light for those who wish to harm our diverse and rich communities. As we pause to remember the lives that were taken at Pulse, we must commit to working together to pass sensible gun legislation, fight legislation intended to promote intolerance and legalize discrimination, and make Florida and our nation a safer place for all,” said Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of Hispanic Federation.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crimes Statistics report found that hate crimes against Latinos soared 21 percent in 2018. In addition to being victims of hate crimes, according to the CDC, Latinos are twice as likely to be killed in a gun homicide as white people. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are also on the rise according to the FBI. However, these crimes remain severely underreported for a host of reasons. Still, they are no less devastating.
Approximately 90 percent of those killed and injured in the Pulse tragedy were of Latinx descent and LGBTQ+, and half of them were Puerto Rican.
“As an organization with Latinx LGBTQ+ staff including at the highest levels of leadership who have spent years fighting against discrimination and advocating for the visibility and rights of both communities, we want to remember the multi-dimensional character of the victims – including the needs of the survivors and the impact of the collective trauma visited on our communities. Upon marking the five-year remembrance of this tragedy, we insist on acknowledging the victims’ intersectional identities, stories, and histories as queer folks, Latinos, immigrants, and people of color, and that many had their lives cut short by gun violence,” said Laura Esquivel, vice president for federal policy and advocacy at Hispanic Federation.
In addition to ongoing advocacy for civil rights and protections from discrimination, following the Pulse tragedy, Hispanic Federation created FuerzaFest, an annual multidisciplinary arts festival focused on Latinx LGBTQ+ stories with the goal of inspiring recognition, visibility, and respect for the community’s intersectional identities. To address those intersectionalities and provide much-needed culturally competent services to the families and survivors of those impacted by the Pulse shooting, Hispanic Federation immediately launched Proyecto Somos Orlando which provided multi-year, wrap-around housing, employment, and mental health services to the victims of the Pulse tragedy and their families.
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