By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
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‘We shall not live in fear’ – thousands rally after homophobic massacre

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Issue 2508
Huge crowds in Londons Old Compton street
Huge crowds in London’s Old Compton street (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Thousands of people joined vigils across Britain for the LGBT+ people killed in the Orlando homophobic massacre last night, Monday.

At least 49 people died at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, after US-born gunman Omar Mateen opened fire last Sunday.

Chants of “We’re here, we’re queer—we shall not live in fear” rang outside the Admiral Duncan pub as thousands gathered in Old Compton Street in London. The Admiral Duncan was nail-bombed by Nazi Dave Copeland in 1999.

Graham McKerrow told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had violent homophobic attacks in London—and Orlando shows that we’re still under attack.

“I’m 60 years old, I remember what it was like before.”

Many people had been shaken by the attacks, but they were also angry. Carey from King’s College London LGBT Society brought a homemade sign saying, “You politicise our lives—you can’t depoliticise our deaths”.

 “The sign is highlighting the fact that some people can co-opt the deaths and say it’s not about homophobia,” she told Socialist Worker. “But we’re here to show our solidarity and support”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London mayor Sadiq Khan and other Labour and Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs joined the London vigil.

A sense of unity

A sense of unity (Pic: Guy Smallman)

There was also an overwhelming feeling of unity and speakers rejected the right’s attempts to scapegoat Muslims for the massacre.

Alaa told Socialist Worker, “I am a queer Muslim, my heart goes out that someone who claims to be a Muslim killed my brothers and sisters.”

Around 800 people joined a vigil in the driving rain in Leeds. Sally Kincaid told Socialist Worker, “We had messages of support from the Muslim community.

“When we took our ‘No to homophobia, no to Islamophobia’ to the front of the stage the organisers were delighted.”

Over 1,000 people in Birmingham joined a vigil organised by the Birmingham Pride committee. Geoff Dexter, a local LGBT+ activist, told Socialist Worker, “It was amazing, I don’t think the Pride organisers knew what to expect.

“We asked to read out our LGBT+ Against Islamophobia statement against the racist backlash—the organisers said we’ll put you on first.”

Around 600 people came to a vigil in Glasgow.

On the several thousand strong Manchester vigil Bev Craig, the lead councillor for LGBT women, said, “We stand with the Muslim community, we are for love not hate.”

Coming vigils:

Tuesday 14 June, 7pm
Newcastle Times Square

Wednesday 15 June, 7pm
St Andrew Square

Thursday 16 June, 8pm
City Park, by the Pavilion Cafe

Saturday 18 June, 5pm
Town Hall Square

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