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Home / Latest News / Hundreds gather for vigil to remember Orlando shooting victims and to offer their support to LGBT community

Hundreds gather for vigil to remember Orlando shooting victims and to offer their support to LGBT community

People across the world have come together to remember the victims of the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Vigils were held worldwide to honour them and show support to the LGBT community in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Gunman Omar Mateen had pledged his allegiance to Islamic State before he killed his 49 victims at the Pulse club on Sunday before police blasted a hole in the wall in a desperate effort to save revellers he held hostage in a toilet.

FBI director James Comey said Mateen had come to its attention twice before the shooting and had been investigated for 10 months from May 2013 because he had made “inflammatory and contradictory” statements about ties to terrorist groups.

Peter Bolter
A vigil was held on the steps outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay

But tonight was all about honouring the victims with cities including Cardiff , London and Glasgow holding vigils to pay their respects to those who had been killed.

In Cardiff Bay , a minute’s silence was held in front of the Senedd. Flying rainbow pride flags, a choir sang the poignant Over The Rainbow while the nearby Wales Millennium Centre lit up its inscription with the colours of the rainbow as a sign of respect.

Speaking at the vigil, Andrew White, director of Stonewall Cymru, told the crowd: “People lost their lives for being themselves in a place where they should be doing nothing more than having fun.”

Peter Bolter
Candles were being lit outside the Senedd

He added: “We won’t stand for it.

“You have joined us here tonight to stand up against it.”

He said they will be working to tackle discrimination against the LGBT community in Wales and to scrap the ban on homosexual men giving blood.

Adam Price AM said: “We are all still hurting but we shouldn’t be silent or invisible. Why do we prefer to see two men holding guns than two men kissing.”

Peter Bolter
Rainbow flags were held in the crowd and other flags were lowered as a sign of respect

Members of various faith groups also spoke at the event, including the Evangelical Alliance Wales, South Wales Islamic Centre and The Henna Foundation.

Men and women of all ages gathered, many holding a rainbow pride flags, to show their respects and support for the LGBT and Orlando communities.

Peter Bolter
The vigil was held after the shootings early Sunday at a nightclub in Orlando
Hundreds gathered to remember those who had been killed

Haydn Price, from Llandaff in Cardiff, said: “Terror will never beat love no matter where in the world it is. We are here to spread our arms across the world to show strength and solidarity.”

Hayley Baldwin and Rachel Houghton, from Llandaff, added: “This is our community whether it’s here or in Orlando. We wanted to come here to grieve and it was a very emotional vigil.

“It felt very personal and it’s great to see people from different faiths here.”

Peter Bolter
A vigil was held on the steps outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay for those killed in the Orlando terror attack
People held placards and rainbow flags to show their support

In the heart of London’s LGBT community in Soho 49 balloons – one for each person killed – were released into the air.

A rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit Bridge Over Troubled Water was sung by London Gay Men’s Chorus as a two minute silence came to an end, followed by the road chanting: “We’re here, we’re queer, we will not live in fear.”

Flowers were laid at St Anne’s Church in the city district and mourners lit dozens of candles.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was amoung politicians at the event, said: “We have to live in a society where homophobic hate crime is a thing of the past and the deaths that happened in Orlando are a sign of something deeply awful.

Yui Mok/PA Wire
People laying candles and floral tributes at Saint Anne's Church in Soho, London
People laying candles and floral tributes at Saint Anne’s Church in Soho, London

“We’re here in Old Compton Street because of what happened here and it’s that sense of solidarity that we’ve got.

“Love, in the end, defeats this crime, because it’s stronger.”

In Orlando, a steady stream of people filed through a makeshift memorial about a mile from the nightclub consisting of bouquets and candles.

In defiance of the attack, its residents also started queuing in their hundreds to donate blood to help those in hospital being treated for their injuries.

Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images
People light candles during a vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, on Old Compton Street, Soho
People light candles during a vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, on Old Compton Street, Soho

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