Orlando massacre: ‘An act of terror, an act of hate’ that hit everyone’s democracy

Sunday the 12th was a heart breaking day for the LGBT community around the world. But this could have happened to any community, to any minority, to any of us who embrace diversity as a fundamental pillar of our democratic values. Much as the injured principle of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris was freedom of speech, in Orlando it is the value of freedom itself, of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms that must underpin meaningful democracies that was assaulted. The way democracies deal with diverse orientations, diverse races, diverse ethnicity, diverse opinions, in summary, diverse ways of life is directly related to the quality and to the very existence of true democracy. Today it’s freedom, it’s human rights, it’s democracy itself that is at stake and not just in authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. Even our most respected and mature democracies are feeling the brunt of this disquieting trend.

This is why the Club de Madrid, made up of by 112 former Presidents and Prime Ministers democratically elected from 70 countries around the world, strongly condemns this attack, extends its deepest and most sincere condolences to the victims’ families and  expresses solidarity with the government and the people of the US. The direct link between DAESH and this carnage, although likely, is still under investigation, but we cannot forget that LGBT individuals are condemned under sharia law and they are, unfortunately, not alone. The list of countries where being gay or lesbian translates into mortal danger is unacceptable and poses a democratic challenge that needs to be faced and tackled.

Once again we call on all governments and citizens of the world to focus their efforts on informing and empowering stakeholders in the struggle against radicalization and violent extremism, keeping up all efforts to build real shared societies in democracies that deliver.