Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he is “not complacent” that a massacre like the shooting in an Orlando nightclub could happen closer to home.
Following what he called a “hideous and cowardly attack” on the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, Mr Khan said he was making steps to ensure that “all our citizens are safe”.
“I’m clearly conscious of how vulnerable LGBT Londoners feel at the moment,” the Mayor told the Press Association at the launch of Pride in London’s No Filter campaign.
“It’s really important that they are able to be who they are but it’s in the context of homophobic crimes going up last year.”
He said it was a “badge of shame” that attacks on the gay community had increased but said he would do “what we can” to keep Londoners safe.
At least 50 people were killed in the early hours of Sunday morning inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Mr Khan said the massacre was an “attack on our freedoms and our values” and that his thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their families.
He said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
“Our LGBT community has also faced murderous attacks in the past – we remember the bombings at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho – and it’s really important we are vigilant towards this evil hate crime.”
He said the Metropolitan Police were focused on addressing hate crimes but it was important that Londoners remain vigilant as homophobic crimes in the capital rose last year.
“If you’re an LGBT Londoner you should feel at home in London. I want everyone not just to feel safe but be safe as well and also to be who they are.”
The Mayor will be attend a vigil in Old Compton Street, London, on Monday night for the victims of the massacre.
Mr Khan was at a photocall in central London for Pride in London’s 2016 campaign which recognises people around the world who do not have the freedom to be openly gay, while celebrating Britain’s progress in LGBT rights.