Defiant LGBTQ+ Norwegians stage ‘spontaneous Pride parade’ after Oslo shooting

People walk through Oslo holding Pride flags

Norway’s LGBTQ+ community has remained defiant in the face of a mass shooting in front of an LGBTQ+ venue in Oslo by staging a “spontaneous” Pride parade.

Only hours before the capital city’s annual Pride parade, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen from Iran opened fire at three locations in Oslo’s nightlife district in the early hours of Saturday (25 June).

Two were killed and at least 10 seriously wounded in an incident being investigated as an act of terrorism.

Norway’s Police Security Service (PST) raised its terror alert level from “moderate” to “extraordinary” – the highest level – after the attack, NRK reported.

The suspect is believed to be a radicalised Islamist who is suffering from mental health problems, PST acting chief Roger Berg said at a 2pm press conference. He was known to security services since 2015.

While the motive was unclear, Oslo Pride cancelled a parade scheduled for 12pm as one of the shootings took place outside the London Pub, one of the city’s largest LGBTQ+ venues.

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“We urge all of Norway to show solidarity and mark Pride at home, in their neighbourhoods,” said Pride leader Inger Kristin Haugsevje in a Facebook statement.

With Oslo Pride cancelled, countless Pride flags and flower bouquets were left outside the London Pub for a makeshift memorial.

Prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre and finance minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, as well as crown princess Mette-Marit and crown prince Haako, paid their respects at the scene of the shooting.

Thousands gathered in the afternoon to silently march along Rosenkrantz towards the London Pub that soon became a joyous celebration of community spirit – with, of course, Lady Gaga blasting out of speakers.

“Seeing people crying, cheering and being courageous to go to the streets is the most beautiful thing I witnessed,” said one marcher.

After Oslo Pride was silenced, a defiant LGBTQ+ community took to the streets. (Rodrigo Freitas/Getty Images)

Frightened clubgoers at the London Pub were trapped inside the basement for 10 minutes as the suspect laid siege to the nightclub as well as the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a takeaway.

One witness told PinkNews that “panicked” people scrambled to hide under tables as the glass shattered around them. They were told they couldn’t leave outside of one exit for 10 minutes as someone had been “shot just in front of us”.

Norway’s politicians have been left grappling with something the nation has so rarely experienced – a mass shooting.

Støre described the shooting as a “cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people”.

“We do not know what was behind this terrible act,” he continued in the Facebook statement, “but to queer people who are now afraid and in mourning, we are all with you.”

Crown princess Mette-Marit of Norway and crown prince Haakon of Norway kneel at a makeshift memorial in front of Norwegian finance minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum (2R) and prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre. (JAVAD PARSA/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

Erna Solberg, leader of the opposition party Conservative Party of Norway, said the shooting was an attack against “love”.

“It’s an attack on the freedom to love whoever you want,” she wrote, adding: “In Norway, it should be safe to love whoever you want and no one should scare us from being an open, generous and inclusive country.”

The mayor of Oslo, Raymond Johansen, called it “gruesome” and “horrific”.

“Today we were going to celebrate love with a huge party in the Pride parade through the streets of Oslo. Now grief is overshadowing everything,” he said.

“But we will stand together today, tomorrow and all the days after. For the right to love whomever you want.”