FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Nathalie Chiasson, chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, on the tragic event in Orlando, Fla.:

On June 12, people around the world woke up to horrific news: a lone gunman took the lives of 49 persons and injured as many in a brutal and senseless act of violence at an Orlando nightclub. What is even more unsettling is that this mass shooting, the worst in the United States’ history, targeted a specific group of people: lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender.

Already theories abound on what could possibly motivate someone to commit such a reprehensible act, and what could have been done to prevent the attack. No matter what the reasons, it is a disheartening reminder that some people do not see others as human beings if they are different from them, and some groups of society are still vulnerable to prejudice, hate and physical threat because of this discriminatory behaviour. Every human being is entitled to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of their sexual orientation, the colour of their skin, their religious beliefs, their cultural heritage or their political views.

After the atrocities of World War II, it was thought that the creation of mechanisms and laws to recognize the basic rights of individuals would provide a shield against discrimination. But the events of June 12 remind us that no defence is perfect and that the battle against discrimination is an ongoing mission. Since 1967, the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission strives to inform and educate residents about their rights and obligations, to promote equality in a rapidly changing world and to provide New Brunswickers with an effective way to address acts of discrimination.

If we are to become a truly global world, we need to start embracing differences and respect people as human beings so that each person feels part of the community. And while the families and friends of the victims grieve the loss of their loved ones, I hope they take solace in the vigils and moments of silence held around the world to show they are not alone.