The United States Monday called on all 193 members of the United Nations to not only condemn the act of terror that killed 49 and injured 53 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, over the last weekend, but also to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from such attacks.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. David Pressman said protecting the dignity of all human beings should be at the heart of the assembly's work going forward, the Associated Press reported. Pressman said outrage over the killings should be directed at protecting members of the LGBT community, and “not just around condemning the terrorists who kill them.”
On Monday, the country mourned the 49 victims of the attack at the Pulse nightclub — the biggest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Shooter Omar Mateen, who was killed in a gun battle with police, has been called a “homegrown extremist” by the White House and the FBI. The U.S. citizen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and other militant outfits during a 911 call he made.
Almost two dozen civil society organizations that provide services for LGBT and other communities were banned last week from a high-level General Assembly meeting on AIDS, held from June 8-10.
Outgoing General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said at a news conference Monday: “I find it very regrettable the opposition to the participation of those groups.”
Fiji’s ambassador and newly elected General Assembly president, Peter Thomson said advocates can rest assured of his commitment to the rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, when he takes over the presidency.
“You'll have a president in the 71st session who stands for (LGBT) rights,” he said at the same conference.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also wrote to the governor of Florida and the mayor of Orlando to convey his condolences at “the horrific and hateful act of terror” that targeted the LGBT community. Ban reportedly said “such violence is despicable, and contrary to the values of equality, peace and mutual respect that underpin the United Nations.”
The U.N. has worked to improve the rights of the LGBT community in recent years but has faced repeated roadblocks from some member states — especially from some countries in the Middle East and Africa, as well as China and Russia.
Many people, including the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, have highlighted links between the shooter and his Islamist identity, a move which has been criticized as hate-mongering.