Vigils are to be held in Glasgow and Edinburgh after fifty people were killed, and over fifty others injured, during the attack on Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The killings represented the worst mass shooting in US history and, as LGBT people were clearly the target, must be seen as a hate crime as well as a terrorist act.
Organisers hope that the events will remember the innocent people who lost their lives, as well as point to the very real threat of hate crime and the need to combate homophobia and other forms of intolerance.
Thomas Anderson, of Inclusive Networks, is involved with organising the Edinburgh vigil, which he believes will be a “show of solidarity by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sex, queer and beyond community and an opportunity to pay our respects to everyone affected by this act of terror.”
He added that it was important to “come together to show our respect, pay tribute and stand up to the terror witnessed in Orlando. We will remember those who lost their lives.”
Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said: “As the news unfolds about the very many victims of the murderous attack in Orlando, our care and thoughts are with them and their families and friends. It is impossible for us to imagine the horror of the attack, or the devastation to lives it has and will continue to cause.
“Whatever may emerge about any connection between the killer and organised terrorism, it is clear that a large part of the motive for this attack was homophobic hate. LGBTI people around the world face the reality of crimes of hatred, from verbal abuse through to murderous violence. This attack is a terrible reminder of that reality and makes us all feel a little less safe today.
“As we have seen too often, when people come together as a community, whether in a club, or a place of education or worship or elsewhere, one person filled with hatred and with powerful weapons can cause devastation. But communities are what matter, and we trust that this attack will only strengthen the resolve of the diverse communities of Orlando and elsewhere to work together to end prejudice and hate.”
Colin Macfarlane, director of LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland, tweeted: “Hatred can’t be allowed to win. In remembering those lost let us walk tall and be proud of who we are.” He also expressed criticism of media comments that the motives of the killer are unknown, stating: “We do. It was a hate crime against LGBT people.” Macfarlane added that he was “going to work today with renewed sense of purpose and pride. Hate will not win.”
A statement from Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said: “The news of the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, the number of people killed and injured, is shocking in the extreme. My heart goes out to the families of everyone involved.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has flown the rainbow flag from a number of its buildings in a welcome show of solidarity with the victims of the Orlando tragedy.
LGBT organisation Equality Florida has set up a fund to assist the victims of the attack, to which donations may be made online.