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Orlando Is the Most Stark of Reminders That Even in Liberal Societes, We Must Continue to Fight for Equality

14/06/2016 16:37 | Updated 14 June 2016
Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

The homophobic terrorist attack in Orlando has shocked the world. It was, the biggest targeted attack on the LGBT+ community since World War Two. Let's call it what it is - a homophobic attack.

Like everyone across the political divide and people with no politics at all - we all look on in horror - trying in any way we can to show solidarity and support for the families and friends of those people, murdered in cold blood. As a father, my heart goes out to the parents, no parent should bury their child. In the aftermath time we look round to try and find sense in what was a senseless crime.

A lone wolf attack, from a self-radicalised zealot does not represent Islam. He does not represent the millions of peace loving Muslims across the world. As we stand with the LGBT+ community, and all those who grieve, we also stand with Muslims who share our grief and anger.

How do we find the words to reply to such a senseless crime?

For me; love, solidarity and togetherness are the first stage of the response. I agree with Theresa May that police forces should review security for large-scale public events, in particular LGBT+ events such as Pride. An attack on one is an attack on all, but the LGBT+ community in particular feels a real sense of vulnerability. Their security must be a priority.

Of course, this outrage also raises huge issues of US domestic policy. My colleague Alistair Carmichael has called on Theresa May to speak with the US about its gun laws and the need for reform.

This is the most stark of reminders that even in liberal societies homophobia still prevails in some quarters; it must be challenged. We must continue the fight for equality across our societies. Even where important steps have been taken in changing laws there is more to do - equality is not delivered through laws alone. We must challenge hatred and discrimination wherever it is found.

What also touched me was the outpouring of so many people offering help in any way they could. From giving blood to giving the few dollars they have in their pockets. That outpouring, that support, that commitment is so important and will mean so much. Almost $3million (£2.1million) was donated within 48 hours of the page being created by civil rights organisation Equality Florida who are now working with a non-profit organisation set up to help victims of crime to distribute the funds.

When it comes to trying to find the words for barbaric, horrific and unimaginable crimes like this, I seem to fall back to the words of former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg who said, after the attack in Utøya, near Oslo in 2012: "We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity... we will answer hatred with love."

Tim Farron is the leader of the Lib Dems and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale

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