Home Secretary: Pride events should go ahead

Home Secretary Theresa May says that Pride events across the UK should go ahead, in spite of the massacre in Orlando.

50 people were killed and 53 injured yesterday in the shocking terrorist hate crime attack, which saw a gunman open fire inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by US citizen Omar Mateen. The majority of the victims were Latino.

Speaking in the Commons today, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The attacks in Orlando on Saturday night were utterly evil and the government condemns them completely.

“At least 49 people were murdered and a further 53 people were injured seriously. These people were enjoying a night out when the attack took place – our hearts go out to them, their family and their friends.

“This is the deadliest mass shooting in US history. It was an outrage committed to spread fear and born out of hatred.

“”It is clear that this attack has its roots in a warped ideology, which counts homophobia as a cornerstone of its warped worldview. This was not just an act of terror but an act of homophobic hatred.”

She added: “I want to make clear to all LGBT people in Britain and around the world that we will not tolerate such bigotry and violence.”

She said that UK police forces would “review” plans for security around public Pride events, but insisted: “The police have not advised organisers to cancel or postpone any LGBT-related events.”

The Home Secretary said seven major attacks against the UK had already been thwarted by security forces.

But she insisted: “The police’s position at the moment is that they have no plans to cancel or postpone any LGBT events due to take place over the coming days and weeks.

“They will constantly assess that position, and if they need to give additional advice or take additional action, they will of course do so.

“Local police forces work very closely with Pride organisers to ensure that there is appropriate and proper security for Pride events.”

Asked whether specific measures will be taken to protect LGBT venues, she added: “It is right that the police consider security arrangements for the various Pride events that take place, and they will also assess at local level any other events that take place, or particular venues that are frequented by large numbers of people from the LGBT community. If additional action is necessary, they will of course take it.”

She added: “There are many ways in which people can show their solidarity with members of the LGBT community, and I would encourage them to do so.”

Ahead of the statement, the chamber held a one minute silence for victims of the massacre.

Speaker John Bercow said: “In respectful memory of the victims of the homophobic terrorist slaughter in Orlando, I should like to request of colleagues that at 3:30 we should observe one minute of silence. Thank you.”

The entire chamber stood for the silence.

Labour’s Stephen Doughty said: “Orlando, we stand with you. I stand with you as a gay man, and I know that millions across this country of all faiths and none will do the same.”

Equalities minister Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, told PinkNews: “I am horrified and saddened by the events in Orlando over the weekend and my heart goes out to the families, friends and partners of those who were killed and injured in this sickening terrorist attack.

“‎This disgusting act of hate, targeted at LGBT people, must reaffirm our resolve to stand together and build a society where no one lives in fear because of who they are who they love.”

The SNP’s Angela Crawley MP said: “Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific attack, their friends and their families.

“Whatever the range of motives it is clear that homophobic prejudice played a part and that many LGBTI people are feeling particular devastation at what feels like an attack on our whole community.

“This was the deadliest mass shooting in the US in recent times and one of the worst homophobic attacks in history.

“This act of extreme hatred is a stark reminder of the prejudice and discrimination that LGBTI people continue to face and of how much remains to be done to secure full equality.

“However far we have come in recent years we all have a responsibility to challenge and seek to end the culture of homophobia and transphobia that still exists in society. Until we do, prejudice, discrimination and extreme acts of hate will continue to happen.

“As pride season is celebrated in Scotland, the UK, and around the world, LGBTI people will not be cowed back into the closet as a result of this attack. Instead we will stand defiantly and proudly for equality and in memory of all those who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of prejudice.”

John Nicolson MP said: “In the early hours of yesterday morning as young gay men and women in towns and cities across the UK were meeting, chatting, drinking and dancing, our brothers and sisters in the Pulse Club in Orlando were doing the same.

“Suddenly, unimaginable horror struck. Let us say, unambiguously, what happened in Orlando yesterday was a premeditated slaughter of gay people because they were gay by a man who we are told had been outraged because he recently saw two men kissing.

“It was the worst mass killing of gay people in our lifetime.

“We have made such enormous strides in much of the Western world in tackling anti gay discrimination that we sometimes forget how far we still have to go.”

Later today at 5:30 PM, a vigil organised by John Nicolson MP and Chris Bryant MP will be held outside the Houses of Parliament, with MPs and parliamentary staff being addressed by Speaker John Bercow.