Humanists around the world have reacted with sadness and renewed determination in the face of the Orlando LGBTI nightclub massacre. 49 people are known to have been murdered by the attacker, at the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of yesterday morning. Many more victims remain in serious condition.
Andrew Copson, President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), said today:
We must not respond to Orlando with more hatred. Precisely when it is most difficult, we must recall our values: reason, love, freedom.
That does not mean that we should ignore or explain away the underlying causes of hatred and violence. On the contrary we must face them squarely.
The US must face the very present reality of homophobia. Despite recent legal gains, anti-gay prejudice is surging again, in the guise of discriminatory new state laws, and a spike of anti-trans intimidation.
The US must also face its gun crime epidemic, and the overwhelming evidence that the easy availability of guns sustains an incredible rate of gun violence and mass shootings.
And the whole world must face the toxic ideology of extremist Jihadist groups, and the rank homophobia that is a commonplace even in much so-called ‘moderate’ Islamic discourse, and in other conservative religion including many American churches.
Homosexuality remains illegal in at least 72 countries. The death penalty for homosexuality is codified and enacted in four UN states: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen; is codified in another five UN states: Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates; is enacted in parts of Nigeria and Somalia under Sharia courts; is enacted in Syria and widely across Iraq under ISIS; and Brunei is currently introducing a new death for homosexuality law. To deny that the world has a problem with homophobia as it is enshrined by Islamic states and enacted under Sharia courts and extremist regimes would be an act of gross negligence and apologism.
Humanism is the ultimate, long-standing and unfaltering ally of LGBTI people everywhere. In the face of any act of persecution or intimidation we will walk together for our human rights, undaunted, hand in hand.
Many IHEU Member Organizations in the United States and elsewhere also responded.
“Despite the recent gains toward equality for LGBTQ Americans, the tragedy in Orlando reminds us of the bigotry that still impacts the LGBTQ community,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “While this incident is no excuse for hatred against religious groups, religious or ideological extremism that condones violence and seeks to deny equal rights for all cannot go unchallenged.”
Speckhardt continued, “We must remain ever-vigilant in our fight to protect the rights and safety of everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
— American Humanist (@americnhumanist) June 13, 2016
Homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry of all kinds, even when it is couched in religion, has no place in our society.
— American Atheists (@AmericanAtheist) June 13, 2016
One black bar to remind us the violence, so often religiously-motivated, that is a reality for our LGBTQ friends pic.twitter.com/b8SBDg7MuO
— MAAF Official (@militaryatheist) June 12, 2016
Join us & local humanists at vigils in London, Brighton, Oxford, Glasgow, Cardiff, Leicester, Luton, Bristol & more https://t.co/MEUZApCOwu
— British Humanists (@BHAhumanists) June 13, 2016
— IHEU (@IHEU) June 13, 2016
Information on states criminalizing homosexuality can be found in the ILGA report on State-Sponsored Homophobia 2016.
IHEU is the global representative body of the humanist movement, uniting a diversity of non-religious organisations and individuals.