Members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community in London came together to pay tributes to the recent tragic shooting in Oslo, Norway.
On Monday (27 June), scores of people both young and old, queer and straight gathered in Soho Square to mourn the two people who were killed and 21 injured in the attack.
Speakers including mayor of London Sadiq Khan spoke of their horror at the attack, which saw a gunman open fire in and near an LGBTQ+ venue on Saturday (25 June).
“In these dark and difficult times London stands shoulder to shoulder with Oslo,” said Khan. “London stands shoulder to shoulder with LGBT+ community.
“Yes, we are here to show solidarity, but we are also here to send an emphatic message to those who seek to spread hatred and to those who seek to sow division, and to those who terrorise LGBT+ communities: You will not succeed.”
Oyvind Hernes, deputy ambassador of Norway to the United Kingdom, was among those present. He told PinkNews: “We are all appalled and shocked by the horrific attack and this happened on the eve of what was supposed to be the Pride parade.
“Instead of a day where we could celebrate love and diversity, instead we are filled with sorrow and our thoughts are with the victims’ families. This is an attack on the whole Norwegian society.”
A vigil was held in London to pay tribute to victims in the Oslo shooting. (PinkNews/Danai Nesta Kupemba)
The event, called London Stands with Oslo: Vigil, was organised by European Pride Organisers Association and Pride in London to show solidarity to the victims and the Norway LGBT+ community.
It drew a crowd of approximately 60 attendees with many waving both the blue, white, and red flag of Norway and the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag.
Christopher Joel-Deshields, executive director of Pride in London, hosted the vigil and opened speeches. “Hate is something that is prolific across the world, the LGBT+ community is a target, but we have to stand tall, we have to walk tall, and we have to stand in solidarity to show that hate will not win,” he said.
Joel-Deshields then called upon the president of the European Pride Organisers Association, Kristine Garina, who told people to “keep marching at Pride” and to continue stand strong in the face of hate.
Emotions started to run high as councillor Hamza Taouzzale, the lord mayor of Westminister set aside his prepared speech and began to speak from the heart.
He said: “What happened in Oslo was horrible. It should never happen again. It’s sad that we still live in a day and age of people not being accepted because of who you are and who you represent.
“We shouldn’t still be talking about this in 2022.”
Taouzalle reiterated Garina’s point, urging Londoners to come out for Pride in London.
After Khan’s closing speech, the vigil ended with a moment of silence, as attendees bowed their heads morosely.
Claire Green, an electrician from Surrey who attended the event, told PinkNews it was important to pay “respects”.
Green shared her fears, saying: “I think we’ve seen a marked breed in hate, due to right-wing press and that only breeds more hate. We may have to prepare for more attacks like this.”
The Oslo shooting suspect was arrested within minutes of the attack and charged with murder, attempted murder, and terrorist acts. He remains in police custody.