Hundreds of people have gathered in Blackpool to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre.
Stood outside the Flying Handbang in Queen Street, they paused for a minute’s silence during a vigil at 7pm yesterday.
It was held for the 49 people gunned down at gay nightclub Pulse in the early hours of Sunday – and just a day after Blackpool’s Pride event ended following two days of celebration.
It was led by Father Martin Murray, and saw people break down into tears as the victims’ names were read out. Some of those gathered said they had met some of the victims at previous events.
Addressing the emotional crowd, Coun Graham Cain, said: “It could have happened here. We’ve just celebrated a fantastic weekend.
“We will not give in to these people. We will stand strong and we will stand together.”
Blackpool Police’s equality and diversity officer, PC Ian Ashton, added: “Please do not be worried about what has taken place. It’s a long, long way away and I know things happen, but it does bring back and bring home to people that we are all still subject to prejudice and hostility because of who we are.”
The Tower lit up last night in rainbow colours, synonymous with the LGBT community, while a rainbow-coloured flag was flown half-mast from the town hall in Talbot Square, and from the top of the Tower.
Blackpool Council leader, Coun Simon Blackburn, who attended a vigil in London after meeting with counter extremism minister Lord Ahmad, said: “I attended the Pride festival in Blackpool this weekend, which was a fantastic occasion to celebrate equality and show our support for the LGBT community.
“It is devastating to think that at the same time on the other side of the world tragedy was unfolding.
“We need to continue to stand together as a town, a country and a world to prevent terrorists driving a wedge between different faiths, races and nationalities.”
The massacre in Florida was carried out by Omar Mateen, 29, after he pledged allegiance to Islamic State, according to reports.