– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 13th June 2016.
(Urgent Question): To ask the Home Secretary to make a statement on the terrorism threat and on wider security measures in the UK in the light of the horrific attacks on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Orlando, USA.
The attacks in Orlando on Saturday night were utterly evil and the Government condemn them completely. At least 49 people were murdered and a further 53 people were injured, many of them seriously. Those people were enjoying a night out when the attacks took place, and our hearts go out to them, their families and their friends. This is the deadliest mass shooting in US history. It was an outrage committed to spread fear and born out of hatred. As President Obama has said, the US authorities are treating it as a terrorist attack and Daesh has claimed responsibility. It is clear that such an attack has its roots in a twisted ideology which counts homophobia as a cornerstone of its warped world view.
This was not just an act of terror, but an act of homophobic hatred and I want to make it clear to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Britain and around the world that we will not tolerate such bigotry and violence. We will work closely with the United States and we will continue to offer them our assistance and support. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and friends in the global fight against terrorism, fear and hatred. As the investigation into the attack continues, more information will emerge. However, we are not aware of any British nationals being caught up in the events on Saturday night. As should be expected in the light of this attack, UK police forces will be further reviewing plans for large-scale and other public events over the coming days and weeks. The police have not advised any organisers to cancel or postpone any LGBT-related events.
Hon. Members will be aware that since the start of 2015 we have seen 16 terrorist attacks in Europe including those in Brussels and Paris, as well as the atrocity in Tunisia, in which British people have been killed or injured. There have also been many attacks further afield, including in Bangladesh over the weekend. In the last 18 months, the police and security services have disrupted seven terrorist plots to attack the UK. All were either linked to or inspired by Daesh and its propaganda. The threat from international terrorism, set independently of Ministers by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, remains at severe, meaning that an attack is highly likely. In March, the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay reminded us that the threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism also remains.
Each time I come before the House following a terrorist attack, I do so in the knowledge that people have died and others are suffering. I know that this House, and people around the world of all faiths and none, will want to join me in condemning this attack. This Government are determined to defeat the insidious ideologies that drive extremists. Let us be clear. There can be no justification for the mindless slaughter of innocent people. There can be no hiding place for those who perpetrate these acts. And there is no doubt that we will fight and that we will prevail against the doctrines of hate and fear that lie behind such attacks.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question today. I thank the Home Secretary for her statement.
We think we are making progress, and then we are faced with horrors such as this—an unspeakable act of both homophobia and terror, of murder and of hate, and an attack on the LGBT community, who are now mourning their loved ones in Orlando, and on equal love and equality worldwide. Orlando, we stand with you in this House. I stand with you as a gay man, and I know that millions across this country, of all faiths and of none, will do the same.
For all our progress, far too many around this world suffer death and attack every day in the LGBT community. There have been other attacks in the United States, such as the attempted firebombing in Seattle in 2014 or the horrific death of Matthew Shepard. Many have been thrown off buildings in Syria, whipped and chemically castrated in Saudi Arabia, tortured in Iran or Cameroon, and attacked in Uganda or Ethiopia and by right-wing death squads in Brazil and Mexico, and across many countries in the middle east and Africa—let alone those denied basic rights in so many other countries, and even still in parts of our own.
While our gut instinct is often, quite frankly, to stand up boldly to the homophobes, the transphobes, the haters and the terrorists—to go out in Pride, to go to our clubs and to stand with our partners—many will, understandably, be worried about our own safety. From the horrific Admiral Duncan attacks to the many reported and unreported hate crimes against LGBT+ people in this country, we all know that it could have been us.
I therefore want ask the Home Secretary three specific questions. She has quite rightly acknowledged that homophobia, transphobia and hate appear to have played a key part in this horrific attack, alongside terrorist motives, so will she look carefully at the threats to our own communities from all sources, not least the increase in hate crimes in this country? In 2014-15, there were 5,597 hate crimes against people because of their sexual orientation and 605 against people because of their transgender status. Will she ask all police forces to work closely with their communities, and especially with Prides, to support community safety—not just at specific events, but in the daily fight against hate crime? Will she outline what steps she will take on a pan-European basis to tackle any current or emerging threats, not least to stop the trafficking of assault weapons or any other weapon we have rightly banned in this country but which, tragically, are available in the United States.
Every bit of hate we chip away and replace with love is helping to change our world for the better, so we must never forget that love wins in the end, even in dark, horrific times. We should go out proud and march in Pride, hold hands with our loved ones, kiss them, stand up against the haters, the killers and the bigots, and never forget the slain of Orlando or so many who have stood up bravely in the cause of equality and love throughout our history.
May I commend the hon. Gentleman for the remarks he has just made? He has spoken movingly on this issue, and I am sure the thoughts he has expressed are shared across the whole of this House. He is right: it is not just a question of standing in this Chamber and making statements; it is a question of how we approach these issues more widely, and of what we do in our day-to-day interactions with fellow citizens and other individuals.
The hon. Gentleman asked me three specific questions. Certainly, we of course look at all sorts of threats that could pose a risk to the lives of, or could endanger, our fellow citizens. In relation to hate crime, he is right that the figures have gone up. Certainly, a lot of that will be from increased reporting, and it is important that people have the confidence to feel able to report these crimes. On the other side of it, he mentioned police forces’ reaction and interaction with groups, and that is important. It is of course important that the police understand the issues and are able to deal with them appropriately when those crimes are reported to them, and I think progress is being made in that area.
Finally, the hon. Gentleman asked me about firearms. We have been working across the European Union on this issue. An enhanced weapons directive was discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday. We have been encouraging and working with Europol in relation to its work on the trafficking of firearms. The National Crime Agency had a very successful case last year involving the interdiction of firearms, and there have been significant sentences off the back of that case. But, of course, we have to do more. It is important that we work co-operatively with others in looking at where firearms might be originating from, and ensuring that law enforcement agencies are taking appropriate action.
The freedom to be oneself has been hard won in this country over 60 years. As such, freedoms for LGBT people are symbolic of liberty in this country, as indeed is this place, and the armed forces, police services and security services who defend those liberties. Will the Home Secretary ensure that all those symbols of our freedom receive the necessary protection, because undoubtedly they are under threat, as symbols of everything that we have achieved as a country?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. All those right hon. Members and hon. Members across the House who have stood up and proclaimed themselves as gay are an important symbol of freedom. That has been a very important statement for people outside this House, as well. I believe that we have more openly gay MPs in this House than there are in any other legislative Chamber in the world. That is something to be proud of.
The words of my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty were powerful and intensely moving, and will reach well beyond this House. I echo everything that he has just said—and indeed that the Home Secretary has said—in condemning, on behalf of the Opposition, this sickening attack. The grief of the friends and families of those who died will be unbearable, and we send them our deepest sympathy and solidarity at this time.
This was an act of terrorism that targeted the gay community. As such, it brings back memories of the horrific bombing 17 years ago of the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho, in the heart of London’s gay village. That too targeted innocent people, and today we think of everyone affected by it.
If yesterday’s attack is eventually linked to Daesh, that will raise concerns among the LGBT community here and across the world about their safety. With that in mind, will the Home Secretary assure the House that the police and security services keep the safety of all communities, but the LGBT community in particular, under review? Will she tell us whether she has received any intelligence that something similar might happen here?
Over the weeks ahead, many Pride celebrations are planned across the UK, including large-scale events in London, Brighton and Manchester. People will rightly be concerned about the security of those events. They are planned and staffed by volunteers, and most Pride organisations pay for security themselves from the funds that they raise. Will the Home Secretary ensure that organisers receive updated advice, support and, where necessary, additional security, to provide reassurance that Pride events will be as safe as possible for all those attending this year?
It seems to be a facet of our times that rising hate, discrimination and inflammatory language are re-entering political discourse. Will the Home Secretary say whether she has seen a poster circulated this afternoon by Leave.EU, which sought to use events in Orlando for its own purposes? Will she join me in condemning that highly offensive piece of propaganda?
Terrorists want to divide our communities, and turn one set of people against another. Let everyone in this House say to them today that we will never, ever let them succeed in inciting hatred against the Muslim community or the LGBT community. We celebrate diversity and community in this country. We will not allow the haters and terrorists to foment division. Whatever it takes, we stand resolutely alongside the LGBT community and continue to fight hate and homophobia in all their forms.
The right hon. Gentleman rightly asked me about the police response. As I indicated in my response to Stephen Doughty, the police’s position at the moment is that they have no plans to cancel or postpone any LGBT events due to take place over the coming days and weeks. They will constantly assess that position, and if they need to give additional advice or take additional action, they will of course do so. Local police forces work very closely with Pride organisers to ensure that there is appropriate and proper security for Pride events.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked about the Leave.EU poster. I was shown a picture of it just before I came into the Chamber. I think it is utterly irresponsible. What took place is a terrible and horrific homophobic terrorist attack; attempts to link it into the issue of membership or otherwise of the European Union should rightly be condemned on all sides of this House.
My stomach turned when I saw the scenes emerging from Orlando, and the brutal slaughter of so many innocent people, and I think I speak for the whole House when I say that today we are all LGBT, irrespective of our sexuality. I am reassured by what the Home Secretary said about future festivities and Gay Pride, whether in London or other parts of the United Kingdom. Gay people need to feel safe when they go out in the evening or on festivities, and like many other MPs, I will be going to Soho later this evening to stand vigil in memory of those who were slaughtered.
The Home Secretary rightly spoke about sending a message throughout the world. A couple of years ago I asked for the Gay Pride flag to be flown above embassies and high commissions during Gay Pride Week, but that did not happen. Will she talk to Cabinet colleagues and the Foreign Secretary to see that that does now happen, so that we can send out a message of support for LGBT people throughout the world?
I am happy to raise that matter with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and to ask it to look specifically at that proposal.
The hon. Gentleman will be reassured to know that the rainbow flag will fly about Portcullis House throughout the appropriate weekend. That was decided some time ago; it is not something that I needed to announce, but it is pertinent to the point he has raised.
On behalf of the Scottish National party, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the dead and to the injured in Orlando, and I condemn this terrible outrage unreservedly. I congratulate Stephen Doughty on securing this urgent question and on his moving words, and I thank the Home Secretary for acknowledging that these attacks were motivated by homophobia. Does she agree that it is important for everyone to acknowledge that these attacks were motivated by homophobia, both out of respect for the dead and injured, and in recognition of the very real threat of similar attacks on the LGBTI community?
I am proud to be a member of the LGBTI community. In years gone by, and when I came out 30 years ago, we used to be afraid of going into clubs and bars for fear of insults and violence from onlookers. We had hoped that those days were long gone, but this attack shows that there are still those out there who wish to attack our hard-won rights to coexist peacefully. As the Home Secretary will understand, we need to know that the authorities will take particular precautions to protect the LGBTI community from homophobic attacks, especially during the Pride season that is about to start across the United Kingdom. Will she reassure us that those precautions will be taken?
I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Lady, and it is important to recognise the homophobic nature of the attack that took place in Orlando. As I indicated earlier, it is right that the police consider security arrangements for the various Pride events that take place, and they will also assess at local level any other events that take place, or particular venues that are frequented by large numbers of people from the LGBT community. If additional action is necessary, they will of course take it.
The attacks on Saturday were deplorable. Will my right hon. Friend reassure us that although we must remain alert to such attacks, we must not allow them to alarm us and we must continue with our daily lives? The greatest thing that terrorists are looking for is to unnerve us and to spoil what we take to be our normal routines of life.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. If we ceased to go about our business in the normal way, and if people from any community felt that they could not carry on living their life as they wished to do so, the terrorists will have won. That is why it is so important to be clear in our condemnation of these attacks, and—as has been shown across the House—clear in our intention to fight against the terrible ideology that is fuelling these attacks and to prevail against it.
The whole House will want to associate itself with the comments of the Home Secretary and shadow Home Secretary. It is early days but claims have been made that the suspect in this terrible attack had been interviewed three times by the FBI. Does the Home Secretary agree that monitoring suspects is the highest possible priority for our security services but that they cannot do it on their own—they need the support of communities—and therefore any information about people behaving in a way that is not in the norm should be reported to the authorities and carefully monitored? The public might not know whether it is important, but the security services certainly will.
The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct to say that we need to ensure that information from communities is made available to the authorities, where there are concerns about the behaviour of individuals. As we have seen from attacks in various parts of the world, this is not just about groups of people planning attacks; it can just be about an individual who might show signs, through their behaviour, of a changed attitude and approach. I encourage communities, where they have concerns, to make those views known to the authorities, so that, even if there is nothing of concern, at least it can be looked at and that that can be ensured.
As the first openly gay Conservative MP, may I welcome the absolute and total unanimity of the House in sending a message of support and sympathy to the victims and the people of Orlando? May we hope that America is listening and fully understands the genuine nature of what we are trying to say!
I absolutely commend my right hon. Friend for his remarks. He took an important step many years ago—I remember because I was party chairman at the time. It was a significant step for him, for the Conservative party and for politics in general in the UK. As he says, our thoughts are with the people of Orlando at this time.
If memory serves me, it was in July 2002, so the 14th anniversary thereof will soon be upon us.
The intended targets of this vicious and homophobic attack might have been the LGBT community of Orlando, but we should regard it as an attack on us all. In a free society, when a group is attacked because they are different and a minority, it is an attack on us all, and that is how we should see it. This is a time for mourning, but that time will pass eventually, and when it does, should the opportunity present itself to the Home Secretary, I hope that she will say, as a candid friend to our friends in America, that they really need to look again at the availability of guns in their country.
The right hon. Gentleman is right that this was an attack on the values we all share and an attempt to create division and hatred in society and between communities. We must all resist and fight against that and ensure that communities can come together with one voice and condemn such attacks. I think he will find that many people will be raising the issue of gun control in the United States.
One of the most poignant comments I have read on the atrocity in Orlando came from the mother of a young man who is currently unaccounted for. She said: “We have relatively few years on this planet. Why do we spend so much time hating each other?” This atrocity has a terrorist link, but so many attacks on us do not. Will the Home Secretary reassure me that she will work with colleagues in Government to do everything possible across government to stamp out homophobia and transphobia through things such as school anti-bullying programmes? It is so important.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right: this issue has a wider resonance, and we must do everything we can. Much has already been done but I suggest that we will never be able to say that we have done all the work we need to. Throughout the education system and in our attitudes and approaches as a Government and as politicians, we must show that we are all one community and that we must resist those who attempt to divide us and sow hatred, of whatever sort, in our communities.
I want to express the sympathies of the Democratic Unionist party; our thoughts and prayers are very much with those affected by this dreadful atrocity. I commend the work of those on the ground who offered first aid and tried to prevent more deaths. The FBI had marked Omar Mateen as presenting a low security risk, and did not know that he would carry out unspeakable murder. This is the latest example of people who are only noted on the radar but then go on to commit murder or join Daesh. Those known to the security services, but who are seen as a low-security risk, are, more than ever, resorting to wicked and evil criminality. Is it now time to review the security system, especially with respect to those who feature on the so-called lower levels?
The hon. Gentleman is right. The job done by the security services, day in and day out, is a difficult and complex one. By definition, they have to decide who presents the greatest risk of taking action, but the task is made more difficult by the fact that people simply sitting at home, looking at things on the internet, can then be inspired to go out and commit terrible atrocities. It is a job that our security services and law enforcement agencies do very well every day of the week. They keep us safe, and I think Members should thank them and show our gratitude to them for all they do.
I am sure the Home Secretary will agree that using this incident as means of debating border controls ignores the fact that this was an attack in the United States by a US citizen who was able to give vent to his murderous hatred because of the availability of firearms that results from the lack of US gun control. Does she agree that the key is to tackle the sort of ignorance that drives the prejudice that turns into hatred, and that our Government will continue to do that in this country?
My hon. Friend puts it extremely well. He is absolutely right that dealing with that level of ignorance is crucial to ensuring that we do not see these sorts of attitudes and that we are able to deal with them.
On gun controls, are we not fortunate that legislation was brought in during the closing years of the last century, which has, to say the least, been very good for the country? I am glad that the Home Secretary mentioned Bangladesh. Is it not the case that in recent weeks, gays, atheists and free thinkers have all been murdered? While deploring the terrible atrocity that happened in the US on Sunday, we should not forget for a moment what has been happening in Bangladesh and other places—people murdered by Islamists just because those Islamists disagree with their sexuality or lack of religion, as the case may be.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We have some of the toughest, if not the toughest, gun controls in the world. Those, of course, were born out of tragedy here in the United Kingdom. The hon. Gentleman is also right that although the size of the attack in Orlando was significant—the biggest loss of life in a mass shooting in the US—atrocities are also being undertaken elsewhere in the world in the name of this terrible warped Islamist ideology. That is why it is so important for us to defeat that ideology.
Homophobia can, sadly, be part of the daily reality for LGBT people at home and abroad. What makes this attack particularly upsetting is that it took place in a gay club—a place where LGBT people can feel safe to love the person they love quite publicly. As we approach Pride season, what reassurance can the right hon. Lady give my constituents that it is safe to take part in the celebrations of our diverse community? What conversations is she having with the Secretary of State for Education to tackle homophobia in schools and to have comprehensive sex and relationships education that says love is stronger than hate?
I can give the reassurance again that the police will, of course, be making very careful assessments of security issues relating to events in particular, but also venues, for people from the LGBT community. Obviously, if any specific action is necessary, they will take that action.
The Secretary of State for Education was present earlier, and will have heard some of the questions that have been asked. She is also the Minister for Women and Equalities and I know that she takes her responsibility for equalities very seriously. I used to have that responsibility myself, and I can assure the hon. Lady that in considering issues relating to those who wish to divide our communities and sow hatred, we work very closely with the Department for Education.
May I associate myself with the Home Secretary’s comments and those of other Members? As an out and proud gay woman, I know that the atrocities in Orlando were directed at members of the LGBT community—my community; our communities. This act of clear homophobic hate crime in Orlando must be challenged. It is a stark reminder of the prejudice and discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people continue to face. It serves to remind us how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. Does the Home Secretary agree that we must make every effort to challenge all forms of homophobic hate crime, and must agree that #loveislove?
I entirely agree with the comments that the hon. Lady has put on the record. I think it important for all of us to take that message out and about, and for the whole House to make it clear that, as she has said, we absolutely condemn this sort of hatred.
In my constituency, Muslims do not murder gay people; they elect them.
I know that I speak on behalf of all the diverse faith communities in my constituency in expressing my solidarity with the LGBT community in Orlando. The truth is, however, that this attacker was not a lone wolf when it comes to hatred against LGBT people. It may be an uncomfortable truth for some people in this country and around the world, but the fact that he carried bullets does not mean that the prejudice that they carry makes them any better.
May I ask the Home Secretary to work with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that the excellent work that is taking place in schools to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying continues, and is built on further to ensure that all children, irrespective of their backgrounds and the types of school that they attend, are taught that in this country, in standing up for human rights, we do not tolerate or in any way accept discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity?
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We must ensure—and this is part of the work that the Government are trying to do in the Home Office, in the Department for Education and elsewhere—that we send that clear message about the values that underpin our society here in the United Kingdom and make it such a great place to live, one of which is absolute respect for everyone, regardless of their sexuality, background, ethnicity, faith or none. It is important for us to ensure that those are the values that are being taught.
The Home Secretary has, I think, expressed the views of us all. The unanimity of the House has been impressive, and I think we should communicate that to all the people who have lost loved ones in this atrocity.
It is true that the motivation for the outrage was hatred and terror, but what enabled it to happen was the availability of guns. More American citizens have been murdered in mass shootings than all the Americans who were killed in wars between the end of the civil war and the war in Iraq. Will the Home Secretary personally commit herself to conveying to the American Government our fear that if they continue not to act, they will lose more of their citizens to this hatred and terror?
The right hon. Lady is absolutely right. Gun availability is an important part of the overall issue. As I said earlier, we hear many voices in the United States—sadly—on both sides of the argument, because there are those who strongly claim that the right to carry arms should enable guns of this sort to be more freely available and ever present. I should be happy to raise the issue with the American Administration, because I think it important that we can see the dangers. We have suffered a tragedy here that led to the tightening of our gun laws, and I think we are all grateful for the fact that we now have the toughest, or some of the toughest, gun laws in the world.
I am a gay man, and let us all say unambiguously what happened in Orlando yesterday: it was a premeditated slaughter of gay people because they were gay by a man who we are told had been outraged because he recently saw two men kissing. It was the worst mass killing of gay people in our lifetime. Does the Home Secretary agree that homophobia is not intrinsic to the human condition? It is too often taught in homes, in school classrooms and playgrounds and in places of worship. Anyone who has ever winced when they saw two men kissing, muttered loathing when they saw two women holding hands or who has invoked God in justification for a human prejudice is complicit in creating a climate of poisonous intolerance. Will the Home Secretary therefore agree that love and tolerance should serve as the epitaph for those who have died so monstrously?
The hon. Gentleman is right, and I think we should take that message of love and tolerance, and we should be very clear that we condemn these sorts of prejudices that, as he says, can be taught and encouraged and sadly in some places are being taught and encouraged. They are not part of the society that we wish to live in, the values we share and the tolerance and respect for others that we want to see across the whole of the United Kingdom.
I want to place on record my condemnation of the terrible attacks in Orlando. It seems that ISIS is being pushed back in certain parts of the middle east and we are seeing fighters fleeing from its strongholds, a number of whom are coming across to Europe, and some may come back to the UK, Given that, is the Secretary of State satisfied that extra measures are in place to deal with this possible influx of additional ISIS fighters coming back to Europe and that co-operation is of a sufficient level with other European countries?
Yes, of course we look at people who are returning on a case-by-case basis to see what action is necessary. We increased the powers of the police in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, not least with the temporary exclusion orders that enable the police to work with other countries, in Europe particularly, and with places in the UK where someone might be returning to from Syria. They help to manage the return of any such individuals, and we do co-operate very closely with EU colleagues on these matters.
In light of this horrific homophobic attack in Orlando, will the Home Secretary urgently support the call from across the House for compulsory sex and relationships education in all our schools, to educate everyone that love is love and it is okay to be yourself? No one should fear coming out or being themselves, especially after this horrific event, so does she agree that we need to take every opportunity to educate our children so that extremist prejudice does not take hold?
It is very important in education to make sure that we do everything we can to see that extremist prejudice does not take hold. This is something that I know the Secretary of State for Education is looking at very closely.
The Defence Secretary has written to me to say that 850 UK-linked individuals of national security concern have travelled to take part in the Syrian conflict and just under half have returned. In light of the Home Secretary’s answer to my hon. Friend Derek Twigg, could she say how many of those over 400 citizens are on that managed return scheme she talked about, making sure we know who they are talking to and what they are doing?
I fear that there may be a misunderstanding of what the managed return scheme is about: that is about the managed return of an individual where it is felt necessary to manage their return across the border. The issue of what action is taken for an individual once they have returned to the UK, which is determined on a case-by-case basis, is a separate matter.
I would like to associate myself with the collegiate views of this House. Given the atrocity in Orlando, home-grown terrorism has been recognised as a significant risk. Reports indicate that radicalisation may be occurring in UK prisons, with young men who have histories of violence. What policies are being introduced to address this very important issue?
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice has initiated a review of the issue of extremism in prisons, and the Home Office will be working with the Ministry of Justice when it is possible to work on the recommendations from that review. We are all very clear that, in an environment where it is possible for terrorist offenders to come into contact with serious and organised criminals, it is important to ensure not only that that is managed very carefully, but that we deal with the potential for radicalisation and extremism.
A number of countries have sent messages of solidarity with the United States and the people of Orlando, but some of those countries, including Egypt and Saudia Arabia, themselves have the death penalty for homosexuality and have arrested hundreds of people in the past two years. Is it not time that all those countries came into the 21st century and recognised that they have to match their words with deeds and legislation?
I am very clear in my views—and I am sure other Members of this House are clear in theirs—on issues associated with the death penalty, including the death penalty for the sort of issue the hon. Gentleman has raised. This is of course a matter for those countries themselves, but these subjects are regularly raised by British Ministers when they are in discussion with those countries.
May I begin by thanking you, Mr Speaker, for the extraordinary leadership you have shown, not only on the back of these events, but more widely, with the way in which you have absolutely established yourself as a friend of the LGBT community? The ostentatious flair of my community may be slightly restrained for the next few days as we think of those who were needlessly taken from us, but despite that the rainbow flag still flies high and proud over Pride season. It flies high because too long has passed between now and the days gone by when we spent time living anonymously and in fear. Solidarity is stronger than fear, so will the Home Secretary join me in encouraging all our friends and allies around the country to go to a Pride march this summer, to give money to an LGBT charity, to stand up for the kid in your school who is being picked on? Those kinds of acts, I promise, you will not regret.
The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, which goes to the heart of the initial comments made by Stephen Doughty, who said that it is not just about standing up and saying things—it is actually about doing as well. There are many ways in which people can show their solidarity with members of the LGBT community, and I would encourage them to do so.
Order. I thank Stephen Doughty, the Home Secretary, the shadow Home Secretary, the spokesperson for the Scottish National party and all colleagues for what they have said over the past 40 minutes or so and for the obviously sincere, eloquent and compelling way in which they have said it. I hope that in the light of the sentiments expressed by colleagues, they will approve when I say that, on their behalf and in all of our names, I intend to write to the mayor of Orlando. In doing so, I write both to convey our profound shock and absolute sympathy, and to underline the fact of our complete solidarity with the LGBTI community in Orlando, with the LGBTI community across the United States, and indeed with all the people of the United States at this exceptionally difficult and trying time.