Vigil held in Nottingham in memory of the victims of the Orlando Shootings

200 people arrived at Speaker’s Corner to pay their respects

On Sunday the 12th of June 2016, 49 people were killed and 53 others were injured in a horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting is regarded as the most destructive attack in the history of mass shootings in the US. Pulse is an LGBT club in the centre of Orlando. The shooting itself is a shock to the worldwide LGBT community, with the shooter Omar Mateen pledging his allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS.

Here in Nottingham, the LGBTIQA group Nottinghamshire Pride organised a candle light vigil in the memory of the victims of this horrific attack. On the 13th of June, a near 200 people gathered by the statue or Brain Clough to remember and mourn the loss of life as well as challenge the often Islamophobic backlash that often comes when events such as these are covered by nearly all mainstream media outlets.

Maryam Din (a masters student in Human Rights and Justice at Nottingham Trent University) the organiser of the event in conjunction with Nottinghamshire Pride wanted to use the event to express solidarity with the LGBT community and challenge the exacerbated Islamophobia when issues of Islamic terrorism appear in the news.

In an interview with the Nottingham post she said: “The biggest thing is providing solidarity, not just to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, but specifically to the Latin people of colour community and particularly trans people, and trans women especially, as that’s who were targeted.”

The vigil follows a large anti-Islam protest that took place in Old Market Square on Saturday the 11th where 3 people were arrested for violent acts. Similar vigils have taken place across the world the largest of which in the UK took place in London on the 13th. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also brought media attention to signing the book of condolences following the attack.

Maryam Din (second to the left) as well as other LGBT supporters

In recent coverage of the events it was found out that Omar Mateen was a regular at Pulse – following an interview with the nightclub’s owner Jim Van Horn. He told various news outlets that Mateen was separated from his wife, used to pick men at Pulse and was a user of gay dating apps. Mateen was assumed to be radicalised after viewing online material from IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The FBI are investigating Mateen’s suspected connection with similar terrorist activity in Europe.

This event has brought many issues into the current media discourse, such as homophobia, gun control, Islamophobia etc. But in times such as these so close to the event it’s important to pay respect to the victims and not to undermine the tragedy of lost human life by using the event as a vehicle to support or to appose a particular agenda.