Statement on the Mass Shooting of LGBTQ Persons in Orlando
We are all incredibly shocked and saddened by the recent death of 49 LGBTQ people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We would like to extend our grief to all those affected. We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, as well as the friends and families of those killed and injured.
At CTDC, we would also like to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ Persons of Colour who were overwhelmingly the victims of Saturday night’s massacre. When responding to this tragedy we must remember the diverse and intersecting qualities of the queer community both in Orlando and around the world. This event is a reminder of the major challenges that still exist, from gender binaries to racism – and these should not be ignored.
The challenge for all of us then is to respond to this event in a way that emboldens the shared values and beliefs of the LGBTQ movement around the world. We believe that we should not give in to hate or prejudice when apportioning blame. Doing so undermines the values of non-discrimination and peace, which sit at the foundations of the LGBTQ movement. We believe that criminalising the Muslim community is not the appropriate response to this incident. It is not only destructive, but also undermines the daily struggle of LGBTQ people due to homophobia. We should not single out a whole nation or community and/or hold them accountable for this incident.
As such, CTDC denounces attempts in the press and online media to co-opt this tragedy into a narrative of war, conflict and terror. The systems of prejudice and oppression that shape the lives of LGBTQ people around the world are complex and intersecting, and should not be simplified into narratives of ‘us versus them’. We call for a more nuanced discussion in the media’s response to this tragedy that reflects the alterity of different communities and faiths in positive and progressive ways. We are concerned that a more simplified debate may sustain a process of ‘othering’ – this can be seen in certain responses that have sought to frame Saturday’s shooting as an ‘attack on Western values’. This does a disservice to the millions of queer peoples who are bravely fighting for their rights around the world, and ignores the still deep-rooted systems of oppression and prejudice that find a home ‘in the West’. More significantly, we are concerned by certain attempts in the media to overlook the anti-LGBTQ sentiments that motivated this attack. Certain reports have instead framed the shootings as the product of an East-West culture clash, resulting in a universalising narrative that does little to help challenge the diverse motivations behind anti-LGBTQ sentiments. Moreover, we believe that such a narrative will inevitably inspire further anti-Islamic sentiments, and justify a false perception that it is impossible to be Queer in ‘the Muslim world’. Our work with queer rights groups in the MENA region has revealed how problematic such universalised narratives can be, and we will continue to challenge them now and well into the future.
The shooting is a stark reminder that homophobia and hate have not vanished from queer lives around the world. Attempts to ignore this point in the press do harm to the politics of the LGBTQ movement. In order for a truly diverse and inclusive world to exist, we must look to the root cause of hate. Systems of oppression, like those that rely on anti-Islamic as well as anti-LGBTQ sentiments, are interrelated. They generate systems of violent patriarchy, gender binaries and religious extremism that are not unique to any one part of the world but are indeed global in their reach. The struggle for greater equality, non-discrimination and non-violence is a struggle to break down these structures. This cannot be imposed, but through collaboration and conversation can we begin to imagine a world where such violence is non-existent.
The CTDC Team