Paris, Lebanon, Iraq, USA: disarm gender-based violence for peace and human security

by Abigail Ruane, WILPF PeaceWomen programme. This article was originally published in the PeaceWomen June 2016 E-News. 

In November 2015 the world stood together in solidarity in the face of the Paris and Beirut attacks. Since that time, shootings have occurred around the world, including in Brussels, Nairobi, and Kabul. On 12 June, another tragedy occurred in the United States: a shooter killed 49 and injured at least 53 with an assault rifle in an act of terror and violence against the LGBTQI community at a gay bar during Latin Night and LGBTQI pride month in Orlando, Florida.

As our hearts go out to and grieve with the survivors of the biggest mass shooting in US history, it is difficult not to feel baffled, aghast, and outraged at both the context and response to this violence.

In a world of homophobia, Islamophobia, and rape culture, why is it that the responses are so disconnected from these root causes of violence? Why do we ignore how systems of domination and fear perpetuate domination, exploitation, and violence?

Why do we put the spotlight on security responses rather than recognising and supporting the human security of at-risk communities in their priorities and call for action?

The Orlando attack targeting the LGBTQI community cannot be separated from homophobic and misogynistic discourse more broadly in America today. Some commentators havereflected that, “hate has become the new normal.” In a situation where the attacker pledged support for ISIL/Daesh during LGTQI pride month, we also cannot forget that ISIL/Daesh’s philosophy is founded on gendered exploitation. ISIL/Daesh summarily executes and throws LGBTQI people from rooftops, and maintains systematic sexual slavery using unlike anything seen in recent history.

Guns are part of a culture of violent masculinity and systems of gendered terror and violence, which impacts both locally and globally. Yet, despite overwhelming support by the American citizens for greater domestic regulation, a political economy of war continues, and it does not just impact America: it impacts all of us, wherever we are in the world. From Newtown to Orlando, from Iraq to Syria, you get what you pay for – and we are putting our money into tears, blood, and war. Not only that, but we are putting our money into terrorising communities who love differently, who do not submit to traditional gender normative roles, who dare to stand up claim their rights, and love as they see fit.

This is undemocratic, corrupt, and unconscionable.

It is time to take action in solidarity with the LGBTQI community in Orlando and around the world. It is time to reject militarism as a failed method of conflict resolution. It is time toget rid of the guns and arms in our homes, countries, and world and reclaim our human security.

Take a stand! Let us mobilise together and demand action.