Thousands gather in Oslo to honour shooting victims in emotional vigil despite police fears

Crowds cheer as speeches are held in front of the Oslo City Hall

Norway’s LGBTQ+ community held a rally in Oslo just days after a deadly shooting in a queer bar, despite police calling for crowds to stay away.

Two people were killed and at least 21 injured on Saturday (25 June) when a gunman opened fire outside multiple city centre bars, including the popular queer nightclub London Pub.

Oslo Pride organisers cancelled the the planned Oslo Pride parade, which was due to go ahead on Saturday, at the suggestion of police, after authorities named the attack an act of terrorism.

The community came together in a spontaneous rally that day, with another event planned for outside Oslo Town Hall on Monday (27 June).

Police cautioned against the event citing security concerns, but thousands still turned up to honour the community and pay their respects to the victims.

Protester Marie Sværen told Norwegian outlet NRK: “I feel much safer here than anywhere else right now.”

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, the country’s minister of international development, attended the memorial site to lay flowers for the victims.

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s Minister of International Development, lays flowers at the memorial site where two people were shot in in Oslo (Beate Oma Dahle/NTB/AFP via Getty Images)

A vigil was also held in Soho, London on Monday evening, with mayor of London Sadiq Khan among those to speak.

“In these dark and difficult times London stands shoulder to shoulder with Oslo,” said Khan. “London stands shoulder to shoulder with LGBT+ community.

“Yes, we are here to show solidarity, but we are also here to send an emphatic message to those who seek to spread hatred and to those who seek to sow division, and to those who terrorise LGBT+ communities: You will not succeed.”

Oslo shooting survivor says attack ‘won’t change the way we live or love’

A witness to the shooting in Oslo has recalled feeling “lucky” to have survived the attack, but that “this idiot is not going to change the way we live or love”.

Christian Svane Mellbye, a software development company manager, said the shooting was “scary”, but added the police and ambulance services “arrived pretty fast”.

“We just were sat downstairs, the music turned off and people started panicking,” he told PinkNews.

Oslo holds LGBTQ+ rally after deadly shooting in defiance of fearful police

People attend a solidarity celebration in front of the city hall in Oslo, Norway after a deadly shooting (Rodrigo Freitas/Getty Images)

“It was pretty scary being down there [people hid underneath tables for protection] not knowing what was happening… but the police and health officials arrived pretty fast.

“People were crying and we were told to stay down there.

“When I tried to leave maybe 10 minutes later, we were told to exit another way as there was a person shot in front of us.”

The 42-year-old suspect, whom police believe acted alone, was arrested within three minutes of the attack and charged with murder, attempted murder and terrorist acts. He remains in custody.