US President Joe Biden will designate the Pulse nightclub site in Orlando, Florida as a national memorial, five years after the horrific mass shooting that took 49 lives.
The June 12, 2016 shooting was the deadliest attack on the LGBT+ community in American history.
Around 320 people were inside gay club Pulse celebrating a Latin Night that night. A 29-year-old man entered with guns and opened fire in the early hours of the morning.
Forty-nine people, predominantly queer people of colour, died in the shooting. Fifty-three people suffered injuries.
News of the massacre sent shockwaves through queer communities across the world.
Pulse Nightclub site ‘hallowed ground’
Joe Biden said in a statement at the weekend the venue was “a place of acceptance and joy” for Orlando’s LGBT+ community before the massacre.
However the brutal murders of dozens of patrons turned Pulse into “a place of unspeakable pain and loss”, he said.
“Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who’ve turned their pain into purpose,” he said.
“[They] remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind; we must act.
“In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse nightclub as a national memorial.
“[This will enshrine] in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground.”
He pledged that the US will “never forget” the Orlando massacre.
Biden called for the Senate to pass laws strengthening background checks, banning assault weapons and other safety measures.
Joe Biden acknowledges toll of gun violence against trans women
President Joe Biden acknowledged gun violence has a “particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities” across the US.
“We must drive out hate and inequities contributing to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of colour,” he said.
“We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted and feel safe in living their truth.”
He called for the Senate to “swiftly pass” the Equality Act. He said the bill “will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under the law.”
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