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After Orlando the LGBT Community Must Stand Together

29/06/2016 12:06 | Updated 29 June 2016

This year's Pride in London, took place in the aftermath of our community being shaken by the recent events in Orlando that killed 49 LGBT+ people in a gay club.

This seems even harder to comprehend when in the UK we have almost gained full equality in the eyes of the law, and last year the States followed suit with equal marriage. But changes in the law are no reason to become complacent.

For me, and many of the LGBT+ community, these attacks fuelled by homophobia bring back fears and memories of hate crimes in years past.

Gay people have historically been persecuted throughout the world - from the Holocaust, the assassination of Harvey Milk in 1978 and, I particularly remember, the 1999 nail bomb attack on the Admiral Duncan pub where three people died and many more were injured in Soho. We would not have expected such violence and hatred towards the gay community nearly two decades on.

Recent stats by Stonewall suggests that one in six lesbian, gay and bi people in the UK have experienced a homophobic or biphobic hate crime or incident over the last three years. Between 2008 and 2014, there were 1,612 trans people were murdered across 62 countries - equivalent to a killing every two days. It is still illegal to be gay in 75 countries across the world. We may have forgotten but in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, it is a very obvious reminder that there's much to do and we do still have a long way to go.

However in all this anguish and sadness, there was one positive aspect that resulted from the Sunday 12 June massacre, a virtue that is stronger in the LGBT+ community than can be found in most places -- strength in unity. The following day, vigils were arranged across the world including in London. I stood in Soho at 7pm and was surrounded by thousands of those who had travelled to show their support for the victims and families of the Orlando shooting.

This raises the question: should we wait until we experience adversity to stand together against hate?

This extreme incident symbolises a stark reminder that there is still hatred that LGBT+ people face every day. That is why events and organisations like Pride in London, the British LGBT Awards and Stonewall are so important. We can all do more to support individuals already working tirelessly for equality. I pledge to do more to educate and raise awareness in society and, in turn, stamp out hate!

On Saturday we celebrated our capital's Pride event in central London along with pride events across the world. We should not be scared back into the closet by prejudice and hatred. Instead, we should celebrate and remember that we are resilient, we are strong and now, more than ever, we stand together.

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