Mass vigils held worldwide for Orlando victims

Hundreds of people gathering at a memorial outside the Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts in Downtown Orlando, Florida, on Monday to place tributes and flowers in honour of the victims of the mass shooting at a nightclub in the city on Sunday
Hundreds of people gathering at a memorial outside the Dr Phillips Centre for the Performing Arts in Downtown Orlando, Florida, on Monday to place tributes and flowers in honour of the victims of the mass shooting at a nightclub in the city on Sunday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Landmarks lit in rainbow colours of gay community as thousands condemn terror, homophobia

LONDON • Large crowds have flocked to vigils around the world in memory of the 49 people killed at a Florida gay nightclub in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

In Orlando, where Omar Mateen gunned down patrons of the Pulse, a prominent gay venue, locals gathered late on Monday outside a performing arts centre to remember the victims.

People, gay and heterosexual, including families with children, filled the lawn. Many held hands or hugged, and some wept. Speakers took turns addressing the crowd in English and Spanish, a reflection of the fact that many of the victims were Latino.

Thousands more lined the streets in the Central London district of Soho, long a hub for the gay community in Britain, on Monday, bursting into chants of "We're here, we're queer, we will not live in fear" under rainbow flags. The flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride.

A policeman at the scene estimated the crowd at between 5,000 and 7,000 strong.

In New York, a crowd packed the street outside The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, the birthplace in New York of the gay rights movement. And the One World Trade Centre's spire was lit up in rainbow colours.

In California, thousands gathered outside the Los Angeles city hall to hear pop star Lady Gaga lead a vigil for the Orlando victims. "This is an attack on humanity itself... an attack on everyone," said the singer, who often speaks out on gay rights issues.

In Australia, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit in rainbow colours as hundreds gathered to condemn terror and homophobia.

In Berlin, more than 100 people gathered outside the US Embassy to lay flowers, light candles and wave rainbow flags.

And in the Netherlands, the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, hundreds gathered at Amsterdam's "Homomonument", composed of three pink triangles, designed to commemorate gay men and women who have been persecuted because of their sexuality.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in rainbow colours and the colours of the US flag in solidarity, as the city is still reeling from last November's terrorist attacks in which 130 people were killed.

But in Moscow, a couple were arrested as they tried to leave a tribute outside the US Embassy, the RBK newspaper reported.

Thousands attended similar gatherings in other US cities, including Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Mass vigils held worldwide for Orlando victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe