Let's not sensationalise Orlando tragedy

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida ("Orlando shooting: US anti-terror, gun control policies under scrutiny"; Tuesday).

Alleged shooter Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS during a 911 call as he began his attack.

First, the suspect was described as a homophobe. Then, we were informed that he was a regular at the same nightspot ("Who was Omar Mateen? / Homophobe or closet gay?"; yesterday).

The first impression led to the faulty conclusion that those who oppose the gay agenda are haters and out to draw blood. It is no wonder that unnecessary fear has been sown in the hearts of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The fact is that none of us is guaranteed of safety wherever we are, whatever our inclinations. Terrorism is an attack on the human race.

Just before the Orlando shooting, a Christian celebrity singer was shot dead in the same state. Innocent people were killed by terrorists in schools, churches, and so on, in other countries.

We do not know why Omar shot at the gay nightclub, but he could have struck anywhere.

It is unfortunate that Facebook user Bryan Lim's comment was flamed out of context. His comment was made one week before the Orlando mass shooting, but police reports were made only after the shooting.

Mr Lim certainly should have exercised self-restraint in his words and actions, but it is intolerant of the LGBT community to dig out his personal details and exert pressure on his livelihood.

He has apologised ("S'pore netizen apologises over 'open fire' comment"; yesterday). As Singaporeans, let us learn to be gracious by forgiving others, because everyone makes mistakes.

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said that the Government will protect all from the threat of violence ("Govt 'will protect all from threat of violence'"; yesterday). The LGBT community has lived and worked here all these years. Disagreement of opinion does not mean that threat of violence abounds.

I respectfully disagree with the minister that the gay community was likely targeted in the Orlando massacre, since terrorism can happen to anyone, anywhere, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Nonetheless, I stand with our Government on its family policies. If, for that, I am called a homophobe, despite my many attempts to cultivate goodwill towards the LGBT community, so be it.

Finally, I grieve over every life lost because each life is precious. The humane thing is not to sensationalise or politicise any agenda on the tragic deaths of innocent people in Orlando.

Ho Lay Ping (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Let's not sensationalise Orlando tragedy'. Print Edition | Subscribe