By Antonia Blumberg
In the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, LGBT and Muslim groups have come together with the message that “love is stronger than hate.”
Sixty-eight groups and two national leaders, including GLAAD, Muslim Public Affairs Council and The Trevor Project, have signed the “Muslim-LGBTQ Unity Statement in Response to Divisive Rhetoric After Orlando Shooting.” The statement, which was published Tuesday, urged people of all faiths and backgrounds to stand together in a time of hate.
“In standing together, hand in hand, across every faith, we send a powerful message to those who seek to divide us using hatred and violence: Love is stronger than hate and hope will defeat fear,” the statement read.
The country witnessed a fair share of divisive rhetoric in the days following the shooting, which left 49 dead and 53 others injured. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump chose to leverage the tragedy by reinforcing his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. He also accused President Barack Obama of sympathizing with the shooter, who reportedly pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State in a call with police during the shooting.
Many Muslim Americans feared backlash after the shooting, though religious leaders from different faiths urged the American public not to blame the actions of one sick individual on an entire faith.
The massacre also shed light on latent homophobia running through many faiths and communities in the country. One Northern California pastor made headlines for praising the attack, saying, “I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight.”
But by and large, the shooting gave rise to an outpouring of support for the Orlando victims, coming in the form of blood donations, worldwide vigils and fundraising efforts.
In the statement, the LGBT and Muslim groups recognized the effects that both homophobia and Islamophobia have on society — something many queer Muslims have pointed out since the shooting.
“We are reminded that as our communities stand together, we are in fact one community — which includes LGBTQ Latinos and LGBTQ Muslims, who are targeted both as Muslims and as members of the LGBTQ community,” the statement read.
“Now is the time for people of all faiths, sexual orientations, gender identities, and backgrounds, to come together and refuse to allow this tragic act of violence and hate to divide us.”
Antonia Blumberg is Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post