190 LGBT groups in China issued a collective statement on Tuesday condemning Sunday’s massacre inside a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead.
The joint letter is being called by Chinese state media the “largest coordinated effort” ever engineered by the country’s gay rights groups, which tend to prefer to maintain a low profile while fighting for their rights.
Here’s the statement:
We, the members of China’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, wish to express our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families, friends, and loved ones, and all those affected by this monstrous act.
Together with them, we grieve the loss of so many innocent lives and strongly condemn terrorism and all forms of violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
With the investigation still onging, police have yet to announce a motive for the massacre. However, speculation has begun to shift from ISIS-backed terror plot to the shooter’s own repressed sexuality. Omar Mateen was reportedly a regular at the gay club where he killed 49 people and injured 53 more early Sunday morning.
World leaders from across the world have sent in their condolences, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, who called Barrack Obama on Monday to express his “deep sympathy and sincere condolences” on behalf of the Chinese government, along with grief for the victims of the worst mass shooting in American history.
China’s largest gay dating app, Blued, also changed its loading screen to honor the victims, CNN reports.
The shooting has become a major topic of conversation on Chinese social media, with tens of thousands of netizens offering their sympathies online. Of course, others also used the tragedy to bring up America’s infamous problems with guns.
“America always talks about China’s human rights problem, but it’s time to talk about America’s human rights problem,” commented one netizen, according to What’s on Weibo.
Each year, right after the US issues its human rights report, China fires back with its own, examining all the human rights violations that they say were committed by the United States over the past year. Gun violence and mass shootings always feature prominently in the Chinese report.
An editorial published by Xinhua yesterday said that the shooting ripped open three old wounds plaguing America: gun control, immigration and terrorism. Conspicuously missing from this piece is homophobia and gay rights — in fact neither “gay” nor “LGBT” appear in the article. Instead the piece ends by concluding that “the American government should readjust its foreign policy, and stop imposing its idealogy on others.”
Listed as a mental illness until 2001, homosexuality is not illegal in China, though, as of yet, gay couples don’t have the legal rights or privileges afforded to heterosexual couples. Chinese labor law contains an anti-discrimination clause that covers ethnicity, religion and sex — but not gender or sexual identity. China’s new domestic violence law does not apply to gay couples and recently Chinese censors have been cracking down on “immoral content,” including depictions of homosexuality in the media.