Orlando shootings: Vigils held around the UK

Media captionA two-minute silence in London’s Soho district ended with applause for the victims

Vigils are being held across the UK in memory of the 49 people killed in a shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Events are taking place in various cities to show solidarity and support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people worldwide.

Hundreds gathered in Glasgow’s George Square, while Soho in London was packed with people paying their respects.

US authorities say gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State shortly before Sunday’s attack.

Meanwhile, UK police are reviewing security for large-scale public events following the killings.

Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs it was right to examine security for forthcoming Gay Pride celebrations but said there were no plans for events to be cancelled.

At the scene: Soho pays tribute

Live updates: Orlando shootings

How attacks unfolded

Who was Omar Mateen?

‘All walks of life’

Some 600 people have gathered in Glasgow’s George Square, where floral tributes and lit candles have been placed. A rainbow flag is flying at half mast on Glasgow City Chambers.

Organiser Ciara McGuire said: “We’re from Free Pride which is an LGBT community group in Glasgow and we just felt we needed a place where people could come and be around friends, and show solidarity with the people in Orlando as well.”

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Two people in Glasgow draped in the rainbow Pride flag, a symbol of the LGBT community

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Reuters

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A two-minute silence was observed during the Soho vigil

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Benjamin Zand

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The vigil has been organised by the group London Stands With Orlando

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PA

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Several cities around the world and the UK held a vigil – including this one in Liverpool

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PA

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan earlier said he was “conscious of how vulnerable LGBT Londoners feel at the moment”

In London, huge crowds gathered in Old Compton Street, at the heart of the capital’s gay community.

The normally lively street fell silent at 19:00 BST as a sign of respect, after which 49 balloons – one for each person killed – were released into the air.

The BBC’s Rebecca Cafe, in Soho, said: “Some hugged those close to them while others bowed their heads in memory of those who died in Orlando, and also in other attacks on gay communities around the world.

“It was billed as being a two-minute silence, but it went on for far longer. Afterwards, people cheered and clapped before chanting: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we will not live in fear’.”

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Jennifer Dean said the vigil in London was “very moving”

Jennifer Dean, from Bromley, south-east London, said she just had to come to the vigil.

“I had to attend here and be counted and to show support, and let Orlando know that they’re not alone,” she said.

“I’ve experienced hatred and it was an attack on friends.”

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Nicholas Hall said the massacre in his native America had made him more “security aware”

Nicholas Hall, an American who is studying in London, used to live in Miami and knew people who had witnessed the shooting.

“I had many acquaintances in the Pulse nightclub, four of five of my friends and a lot of people they knew,” he said.

“Seeing the victims’ ages, in their 20s, 30s – my age – brought it much closer to home.”

The vigil was attended by a number of politicians, including the new London mayor, Sadiq Khan, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, was also there.

Old Compton Street is home to many gay bars, including the Admiral Duncan, where three people were killed and many more injured in a nailbomb attack in 1999.

Vigils were also held in Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Brighton, Leeds and Nottingham, with more planned in the coming weeks.

In Manchester, hundreds of people held hands and linked arms in silence on Canal Street, the hub of the city’s gay village while a lone voice sang Amazing Grace.

The crowd was addressed by Manchester’s first openly-gay Lord Mayor Carl Austin-Behan and actor Julie Hesmondhalgh who played transgender character Hayley Cropper in the ITV soap Coronation Street.

‘Utterly evil’

The attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida is the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history. It ended when police shot Mateen dead. It also left 53 people injured.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, Mrs May said she was not aware of any British nationals being caught up in the shootings.

Media captionTheresa May said that UK police forces would be “reviewing plans for large-scale and other public events”

The “utterly evil” attack had been “designed to spread fear”, she said, adding: “We will not tolerate such bigotry and violence”.

The UK has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, she said.

MPs held a minute’s silence in the Commons in memory of the Orlando victims.

Media captionReplace hate with love, says Labour MP Stephen Doughty

Mrs May also said seven UK terror plots had been disrupted in the last 18 months, all inspired by so-called Islamic State, with the overall threat level remaining at severe.

The Metropolitan Police said it had increased patrols in “prime locations”, as well as continuing to work “closely and engage with the LGBT community”.

There is “no intelligence to suggest an increased risk in London”, the force added in a statement.

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Getty Images

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MPs gathered opposite the House of Commons to pay their own tribute to the victims

On Saturday, 25 June, Pride in London hold their annual parade and related events for the LGBT community.

Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron had written to US President Barack Obama “to underline our shock here and our support for the US people as they deal with this incident”.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said the PM was being regularly briefed on the situation.

A spokeswoman for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said police forces across the country would be reviewing security around events in their areas.

Orlando shootings: Vigils held around the UK

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