People gather for a candlelight vigil during a memorial service for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, June 13, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Israel’s embassy in Washington had been planning its first-ever Pride reception celebrating the gay and lesbian community, held on Monday evening, for several months. It had not planned to begin the event with a moment of silence.
Marking the murder of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida last week, Israel’s US ambassador Ron Dermer told the gathering that he wanted to offer “a simple message.”
“You are not alone. Israel stands with you,” Dermer said.
“Attacks on the LGBT community are attacks on all of us.”
Dermer took the opportunity to laud Israel’s record promoting and securing LGBT rights – he said the country should be “proud” of its anti-discriminatory laws, courts and military conventions – and characterized the country as “not a perfect society, but a free society” situated in an otherwise “intolerant” Middle East.
The American gay community is commemorating LGBT Pride Month, which was marred last week by the worst mass shooting in modern US history. In addition to the 49 lives lost, 53 were injured in the attack, perpetrated by a 29 year-old male who claimed allegiance to Islamic State.
Dermer said that Jews and gays share a similar fight for freedom and dignity worldwide.
“In looking at those who murder members of the LGBT community,” he said, “Perhaps it could be said today that there are two canaries in the coal mine.”
“We stand with you against the fanaticism that routinely hangs gays from cranes in Iran,” he added. “All people are created in the image of God.”