The indescribable horror of the homophobic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando this past week seems to have set off a political storm of soul searching and hypocrisy.
49 people murdered, 49 scared beyond anything any of us can imagine, having their own lives stripped from them, and 49 families destroyed. 53 more with injuries and psychological scars that wont fade. A violent religious man who could easily obtain an assault rifle, drove for over an hour to specifically target innocent LGBT people at a place they should have been safe. And since then, I have sat and watched shameless political figures across the spectrum, who have either embraced or excused the most hideous homophobia in the past, suddenly hold vigils or moments of silence for the victims.
The House of Representatives today held a moments silence for the victims of the Orlando terror attack. Representatives who have long fought to withhold basic rights for LGBT people, who have taken to airwaves and public talks dehumanising LGBT folk, who would be fine with ‘no gays allowed’ signs in shops and workplaces across the country, who oppose non-discrimination in the workplace acts if they include protections for gay people, today stand and offer their grief over the deaths of those they’ve long considered not human enough for equal treatment, rights and dignity. Representatives who routinely vote to strike down any laws that might restrict the availability of assault rivals that all too often leads to the House having to hold moments of silence.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined a mass vigil in London’s Soho yesterday, in solidarity with the LGBT community. A community he didn’t give two thoughts about when he was describing gay-hating Hamas as ‘dedicated to peace and to social & political justice’. A group whose entire goal is a theocratic state that excludes LGBT not just from the political process, but from liberty itself. A group whose co-founder Mahmoud Zahar referred to the LGBT community as:
“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”
– To Corbyn ‘social and political justice’ starts and ends at opposition to either Israel or the West in general. The LGBT community in Palestine are considered expendable.
Conservative Christians who have spent years focusing their vitriol on the LGBT community – insisting they are dangerous, should be viewed suspiciously in bathrooms, shouldn’t be allowed to adopt or marry, as if there is something specifically sinister about them – take to social media to offer their ‘prayers’ to victims they may not wish to see murdered, but certainly don’t believe deserve equal civil rights, dignified treatment, and protections.
Ted Cruz took the time to release a statement on the homophobic murders in Orlando:
“If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”
– This is the same US Senator who was introduced on stage at last November’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa by a Pastor who said:
“Yes, Romans Chapter 1 verse 32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail…
…Now my friends let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of President of the United States, folks please make welcome Senator Ted Cruz.”
– The vicious ideology that Cruz speaks of is of course Islam. A homophobic set of doctrines that perpetuates and sustains dehumanising and violence against the LGBT community. The Qur’an is of course not that much different from the Bible; a vicious set of homophobic doctrines that Cruz and those who introduce him at religious liberties events use to dehumanise LGBT folk, threaten them restriction of basic rights, and with execution. It isn’t a great leap to go from treating LGBT as sub-human in a country based on human rights, to violence against that community.
Saudi Arabia released a statement condemning the murders as a despicable act of terrorism. The same Saudi Arabia whose Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 is about as barbaric and homophobic terror as is possible to be:
“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”
– The same Saudi Arabia that the Prime Minister insisted to Channel 4 News ‘….actually has a good record of deradicalisation’.
As much as humanity may try, it isn’t possible to simply mourn such a hideous massacre without politicising, and I’m not sure it is wrong to do so anyway. We must all confront the bigotry woven into ideologies from Islamism & those who make excuses for it, to conservative Christianity, that perpetuate dehumanising narratives aimed squarely at the LGBT community. These create the conditions for hate to grow and explode. Homophobia must be treated with the same contempt that racism is treated. At the moment – and when it comes to religion – it isn’t.
To confront the bigoted narrative, we should not allow the hypocrisy of self-serving politicians to undermine the discussion on homophobia and its root causes (almost exclusively religious doctrines based on a primitive, tribal misunderstanding of nature). I don’t want to hear Labour politicians quick to support and excuse far-right religious fascists tell me that “love will conquer”. I don’t want to hear Conservatives defend viciously homophobic regimes as heroes of deradicalisation. I don’t want to hear apologists tell me that ‘terror has no religion’ in a grotesque way to close down discussion; indeed any discussion on homophobia that does not include religion is spectacularly insincere and incomplete. I don’t want to hear Republican politicians who practically hand guns to extremists, whilst perpetuating the homophobic narratives that pull the trigger, tell me that a vicious alien ideology – an ideology whose homophobic beliefs those Republicans flirt with daily – is responsible. Here’s the fact; Holy Books and those who adhere to them have for centuries taught that homosexuality is a moral evil, a sin that must be punished, that continue to undermine and deny gay rights and dignity, that refer to the fight for liberation and protections as ‘the gay agenda’, that believe children are at risk, that tell us that same-sex marriage is the death of our culture. Further, Those liberals who seek to protect illiberal and homophobic tribal squabbles from centuries ago, sell the LGBT community to the first extremists who offer their hatred for the West. They are to blame. All of them. From Hamas to Corbyn to Cameron to Saudi to Cruz.