Article @ Morning Star, published 14 June 2016
LGBT activists shut down the “horrible and racist thought process” linking Sunday’s Orlando mass shooting to Islam yesterday as thousands assembled to honour the victims.
British gay rights campaigners were left saddened and angry as mainstream media showed more interest in shooter Omar Mateen’s religious interests than his lethal homophobia.
Vigils for the dead and injured of the Pulse Club shooting took place worldwide last night, as London’s gay village overflowed with mourners.
Words of solidarity were also issued yesterday by the British trade unions and the Labour Party, whose shadow equalities minister Kate Green argued for more security measures during next week’s Pride celebrations.
GMB LGBT network Shout! organiser David Braniff-Herbert told the Star the media’s insistence on the Orlando shooter’s religion was due to their “agenda for Islamophobia.”
He said: “If they can talk the homophobia down they get to speak more on the religious background of the shooter.
“And that has really very little to do with it. Everyone wants to talk about the Isis links, it makes absolutely no difference.
“If you look at how the Christian right have introduced 200 anti-LGBT+ laws across the US in just the past six months, you see it’s not about how some very few Muslims think about LGBT people, it’s about a systemic homophobic, biphobic and transphobic system and it’s intolerable.”
Mr Braniff-Herbert then retold how just over two years ago he and his partner were attacked by a group of young men in a popular London area.
“When we published that story the response from some people was ‘Oh well this is what happens when you have open immigration,’ but all the boys were white and English,” he added.
“The presumption was that it couldn’t possibly be done by white people. This is a very horrible and racist thought process.
“The anti-LGBT rhetoric is not exclusive to one group of people.
“What we need to express is that an Islamophobic response is just as bad as a homophobic response to hate crime.”
Earlier in the day, journalist Owen Jones had walked out of Sky News after presenter Mark Longhurst and radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer attempted to distance the tragedy from homophobic hate crime.
Trade Union Congress LGBT committee chair Maria Exall also told the Star there was “homophobia denial” going on.
“Owen Jones should be supported on insisting that it was a hate crime against LGBT people and that’s what needs to be reported,” she said.
“It’s a hate crime for whatever reason and it should be recognised for what it is.”
Britons also mourned for the Orlando victims in the cities of Manchester, Cardiff, Norwich and Nottingham, while a solidarity event will be taking place today in York at 7pm on St Helen’s Square.
SERTUC LGBT Network
I ask that our sisters and brothers do not respond with further hatred, because that solves nothing.
Instead I ask that we continue to educate, continue to find common ground, act in solidarity with all those who are persecuted, speak out against those who will use this atrocity to further a fascist agenda, protect those most vulnerable in our community and the wider world.”
We condemn those who want to use this slaughter to demonise and scapegoat the Muslim community, the vast majority of whom deplore terrorism as much as everyone else and who have often been its victims, such as in the September 11 2001 and July 7 2005 outrages.
Our thanks to the many Muslims who have spoken out against the Orlando killings and expressed their solidarity with the LGBT community.”
No Pride in Tory Cuts
Let us be clear: this was a homophobic attack, an act of terrorism against the LGBT community. We call on all communities to fight homophobia and racism — an attack on one is attack on us all.”
LGBT+ Against Islamophobia
This horrific attack underlines the fact that homophobia continues to be a part of life in the West today.
This man was born and brought up in the US, where Establishment figures routinely espouse anti-LGBT+ sentiments.
We will resist any attempt to use this atrocity to whip up hatred against Muslims.
The response from the LGBT+ communities so far has been brilliant – a strong desire to stand united and continue our fight against homophobia and transphobia wherever it may come from.”