A Hong Kong vigil for the victims of a shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida that left 50 dead and 53 wounded will be held in Central on Monday evening.

The gunman, who has been identified as 29-year-old American Omar Mateen, opened fire on patrons of popular gay nightclub Pulse in the early hours of Sunday morning. He was later shot dead by police. The so-called Islamic State has claimed it is behind the attack – the worst mass shooting incident in US history.

“Please join us tonight Monday, June 13 at 6:30pm outside of the Linq on 35 Pottinger Street as we remember the lives lost to such senseless violence and stand together against these acts,” the vigil’s event page on Facebook said. “We will have one minute of silence at 7:00pm.”

“The LGBTI community in HKG stands in solidarity with the communities in Orlando. Our thoughts are with the victims, their families, and those who had to experience such hateful violence,” the description continued. “It might rain but we have umbrellas. Let’s cry today and continue the fight tomorrow!

The vigil in Hong Kong is put together by Betty Grisoni – co-director of Pink Dot and co-founder of local lesbian group Les Peches – with Double Happiness, Les Peches, Out in HK and Pink Alliance joining in as supporting organisations. Grisoni, who is from France, also organised an impromptu unofficial candlelight vigil event in Hong Kong for the victims of the attacks in Paris, France last year.

“The event is in remembrance and solidarity for the victims of the homophobic act in Orlando – it is important to remember that it is an act of terrorism and hatred, but also homophobia. Homophobia is very real and some people fear for their life every day,” Grisoni told HKFP.

Standing together

“We are saddened by what happened in Orlando. Homophobia of any kind affects everyone in a community; the victims, their friends and family are equally affected,” Pink Alliance Vice-chair Billy Leung told HKFP.

billy leung
Billy Leung. Photo: Billy Leung.

“We stand together with the folks across the other side of the world, with our fellow people, human beings in this terrible attack on humanity.”

“While we don’t face this kind of extreme homophobia in Hong Kong, discrimination exists in all aspects of the life of LGBT people. LGBT people want to be able to [be on] a level playing field like everyone else, [have] the same level of job security, access to an education, we want to go to bars and cinemas like everyone else without being singled out because of our sexual orientation and gender identity,” Leung added.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.