Northern Ireland news

Belfast rally shows support to victims of Orlando shootings

Brendan Hughes
14 June, 2016 21:25

RAINBOW colours were displayed in defiance at Belfast City Hall on Tuesday as crowds gathered to show solidarity with the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

A huge flag representing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community was unfurled in the grounds of city hall as hundreds attended a vigil.

Many people also held aloft rainbow flags, umbrellas and sloganed banners, while some dressed in multi-coloured outfits.

Speakers included Rainbow Project director John O'Doherty, who told the crowd: "We will not be silenced – We will not be broken."

Also among those gathered was Gareth Lee, who won a high-profile discrimination case against Ashers bakery after it refused to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The decision is currently being appealed.

Holding a black umbrella with a rainbow tassel and 'end homophobia' written across it, he said it was important to show support for the Orlando victims.

"I think it's important to show solidarity with the families of those who have lost their lives, and across the world – because this is happening across the world," he said.

Preston Geddis (38), from Bangor, dressed in a multi-coloured cardigan and held a rainbow umbrella.

"I have been supporting LGBT rights since I came out 20-odd years ago," the carer and therapist said.

"It is to show solidarity, and to show that hate is never right and is never an answer."

Among politicians who attended the vigil was PUP Belfast councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston, one of Northern Ireland's few openly gay politicians.

"Our thoughts are not only with the people who lost their lives in the attack in Orlando but with the many survivors who will undoubtedly be haunted with the memory for the rest of their lives," she said.

"I'm delighted to see so many people here in solidarity with the LGBT community."

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said: "I'm proud to stand with the people from Belfast and further afield today as we show our support."

Earlier, DUP First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness signed a book of condolence at city hall for the victims of the Orlando shooting.

On Monday night the city hall was lit in rainbow colours and later the colours of the US flag.

14 June, 2016 21:25 Northern Ireland news