British Jews pay tribute to Orlando victims

British Jews pay tribute to Orlando victims

LGBT+ and Progressive Jews 'stand in solidarity' with gay community in aftermath of Florida shooting

Gabriel Pogrund is a journalist at the Sunday Times .

Vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando attack.
Vigil in memory of the victims of the Orlando attack.

Prominent British Jewish groups have paid tribute to the 49 clubbers murdered by an ISIL inspired gunman at a gay club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday night.

Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and the Board of Deputies are among those to have condemned the attacks, widely described as America’s ‘worst ever’ mass shooting, and declared their solidarity with the US and global gay community.

Keshet, the Jewish LGBT advocacy group, urged ‘inclusion and love’ of gender and sexual minorities in the aftermath of the shooting, while Liberal Judaism called for similar inclusion and described the event as ‘an attack on all of us’.

In an apparent reference to the Sky News spat between journalists Owen Jones and Julia Hartley-Brewer over whether the attacks were homophobic or instead, as the latter suggested, against ‘all humanity’, Reform Judaism urged that the attack be acknowledged as a ‘deliberate act of homophobic terror’.

It also called for Jews to condemn ‘institutional prejudices and casual acts of disdain’, as well as explicit homophobic and transphobic violence.

'Unstable': gunman Omar Mateen.
‘Unstable’: gunman Omar Mateen.

Earlier the Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, Laura Janner-Klausner, spoke on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the Day‘ about her gender non-binary child.

She described the attacks as ‘close to my heart and to my central parental nervous system’.

Her claim that ‘religious people, especially clergy’, were responsible for countering homophobia and transphobia was echoed – in the form of a re-tweet – by Keshet.

Other Jewish individuals and organisations offered their condolences to the families across across Tuesday morning.

Jewish journalist Benjamin Cohen, Chief Executive of the world’s most read gay newspaper, Pink News, said there was a continuum between feelings of hatred for LGBT people and this weekend’s ‘sickening violence’.

He continued: ‘We can only hope and pray that the almost unanimous condemnation of the attack will foster an environment where LGBT people can live and prosper in a climate without fear.’

Meanwhile Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, called for security to be boosted at London Pride and other events which could be targeted by Islamist extremists – including, he said, those involving the Jewish community.

FBI intelligence confirmed last night that the gunman, Omar Mateen, a US national, was radicalised online and had expressed contempt for Jews and women as well as the gay community.

According to the shooter’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, he was ‘mentally unstable’ and physically abusive toward her during their short lived marriage.

Reports this morning said that Mateen was a regular at Pulse, the nightclub where the shootings took place.

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