Homophobic graffiti, Nazi symbols and an infamous anti-gay Bible verse have been smeared across an LGBTQ+ centre’s rainbow murals.
On Saturday (26 August), the LGBT+ Center Orlando, in Florida, revealed that images, created by Zebra Youth, an organisation that supports homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people, had been vandalised.
The mural celebrates gay pride and trans joy in the form of large rainbow hearts made from the colours of the Pride and trans flags.
The artwork also pays tribute to the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting and queer journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed during riots in Northern Ireland.
Images shared by The Center on social media showed the homophobic graffiti, including the words “gay is not okay” and “stop the lies”.
As well as this, a Celtic cross – a symbol often used by white supremacists – and “Leviticus 20 18”, the Bible verse which calls homosexuality an abomination, were also sprayed over the mural.
In a statement, the group said: “The Center’s beautiful murals were vandalised with hateful homophobic and transphobic messages and [Nazi] symbols.
“We appreciate all of the community support and are doing everything to ensure the safety of our youth and staff. We will not allow hate to win.”
The community rallied together to repaint the murals and restore them to their former glory after the graffiti attack – in less than 24 hours.
Florida House of Representatives Democrat Anna V. Eskamani branded the vandalism “absolutely disgusting” and pledged to “do what we can to identify who did this and hold them accountable”.
In a statement taking aim at state governor Ron DeSantis, Equality Florida said the Republican had “unleashed and emboldened a scourge of hate in Florida” against the LGBTQ+ community.
“He has fanned the flames of anti-LGBTQ bigotry and his agenda sends a clear message that his administration not only tolerates hate, it welcomes it. These vile messages have no place in our state.
“We stand with The Center, Zebra Youth and all those working to make Florida better.”
Two murals at Zebra Youth’s own building, across the road, were also defaced, according to NBC News.