December 6, 1989. Some readers will not need more details to know the significance of this date. They will recall with mortification and sadness the horrible killings that occurred on that day.

On December 6, 16 years ago, a disgruntled and crazed gunman violently vented his misogyny on the campus of Montreal’s Ã0/00cole polytechnique, a postsecondary institution focused on sciences.

Armed with a rifle and blinded by deep anger towards women, Marc Lépine, killed 14 young female engineering students. The killing spree grabbed headlines and forced society to take a hard look at the violence directed towards women.

Remembering that day might be a painful exercise but it’s important to recall history in order not to repeat it. By shining more light on the problem of violence against women, we honour the women who perished.

Women get paid less and women’s work is frequently under-valued. Women live in a society where men and maleness is predominant.

Women’s voices are frequently silenced and their viewpoints, under-represented, especially in politics. Only 23 per cent of candidates in the 2004 federal election were women. Not surprisingly, only 21 per cent of Members of Parliament are women.

Women’s lives are often in danger; the high rates of violence towards women sadly underlines their vulnerability. According to the General Social Survey of 1999, women tend to be more fearful than men of being victims of crime. Nearly two-thirds of women, double the proportion for men, feel worried while waiting for, or using public transportation alone, after dark. Almost a third of women, about three times the rate for men, reported being worried if home alone in the evening. One in five women feels unsafe when walking alone in their area, after dark, but only one in 17 men share that feeling.

November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBT) people should be concerned and involved.

Regardless of sexual orientation or biological status, all women are affected by the violence directed against them. Half of Canadian women have been victims of at least one act of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Females make up the vast majority of victims of sexual assaults (86 per cent) and criminal harassment (78 per cent).

These appallingly high figures include lesbians, bisexuals and trans-identified women. Violence against women therefore touches the LGBT community directly.

Gay and bisexual men should seek to eradicate violence in society. As long as violence remains a recourse for stomping out any type of non-conformity, then no-one who is different (such as non-heterosexual) can feel completely safe.

Gay and bisexual men need to demonstrate compassion and solidarity with their sisters, mothers, aunts, cousins, friends and lovers. Let us recall that women were quite involved in the fight against AIDS when it initially and primarily struck the men’s community.

Finally, just as LGBT people have argued in favour of our own equality and justice, working towards eliminating violence against women is the right thing to do. Period.