By Charles Santiago
The recent mass murder of 49 people at the Pulse Club in Orlando, Florida, was a heartbreaking reminder of the threats LGBT people face every day around the world. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims, in addition to LGBT people everywhere, for whom the pain of this event is particularly deeply felt. We stand as your allies, and we reaffirm the notion that LGBT rights are human rights.
Though this tragedy unfolded far away geographically, it hit close to home for those of us in Southeast Asia, who know the pain and sorrow that hatred and violence can unleash. We must push back against the hateful ideologies that influenced and inspired the killer. Hate crimes and homophobia should be condemned by all governments, including those in ASEAN. We must stand up for all our citizens, including LGBT people and other marginalized populations, and work to ensure that the human rights of all are protected.
ASEAN and its member governments should learn from the experience in Orlando. Gun control and the rule of law should be priorities, as should combating the homophobia and threats to LGBT people that persist in our region. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, we must resolve to do better and work to build a global community that embraces diversity and rejects hatred.