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Orlando shooting: Pride Canterbury overshadowed by events in America

America’s mass shooting which has left at least 50 dead is a stark reminder of the need to celebrate inclusion, say Pride Canterbury promoters.

By tragic coincidence the horrific attack in Orlando, Florida happened just hours after thousands had joined Kent’s LGBT community for a day of festivities.

Pride Canterbury, which saw a colourful parade through the city centre, has now been overshadowed by events across the Atlantic, organisers admit.

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The Lord Mayor leads the parade
The Lord Mayor leads the parade

But chairman Edd Withers has said the success of the event must still be celebrated – as not doing so would be a disservice to those who have lost their lives.

“It’s incredibly difficult to have a celebratory tone about these things when such a horrendous tragedy has occurred,” he said.

VIDEO: The community came together for the celebrations in Canterbury.

“But it has rammed it home to everyone why Pride events are so important. This terrorist had a hate for LGBT people.

“The only way that that can be explained is through ignorance and misunderstanding.

“And the only way to cure that is through educating people. It’s to show people that LGBT people are friendly, happy normal people.

“We should be celebrating people’s differences and Pride events do just that.”

Mr Withers estimates that more than 3,500 people joined LGBT revellers for musical events in Canterbury’s Dane John Gardens on Saturday.

Across the Atlantic, at around 2am US-time, gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in Pulse, a gay nightclub, ultimately slaughtering 50 and leaving more than 50 more injured.

Mr Withers said: “First and foremost this was an attack on LGBT people.

“What a lot of people need to see, is that when they try and explain such an event as an attack on human beings in general, they’re removing an important element – that that guy chose to kill people because they’re gay.”

Mr Withers said events such as Pride Canterbury are aimed at bringing help all members of society together.

“Pride Canterbury is for everybody, but it’s about LGBT people. If somebody is not LGBT but wants to join the festivities, that’s great.

“The whole point is that we celebrate inclusion.

“Events such as this [the mass shooting] remind us of the importance of doing things like this.

“So not highlighting the success of Canterbury Pride, is, in a sense, doing a disservice to what it sets out to do.

“And it’s a disservice to those that have been killed.”

He has paid tribute to all those who took part and all who helped in bring about the festival’s success.

“We’re chuffed, they’ve done us proud,” he had said.

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