Owen Jones was reviewing the papers on Sky News last night. So was Julia Hartley-Brewer (who began her journalistic career on the East London Advertiser before moving to the Evening Standard and the Express). Owen had already tweeted his amazement that on a day when 50 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Transgender (LGBT) people had been killed, the BBC News channel persisted in covering the Queen’s birthday without alluding to the atrocity in the US.
The Sky News presenter and Ms Hartley-Brewer persisted in referring to the Orlando attack as if it had been an attack by an Islamic extremist on just a pub, just on people enjoying themselves – and refused to acknowledge that the attack was specifically targeted at the LGBT community. This led them to underestimate and overlook the degree to which the LGBT community internationally was feeling shocked and vulnerable.
Owen began patiently explaining why the attack should be regarded as an attack on the LGBT community. After all, he pointed out, if a murderer had rushed into a venue knowing that Jewish people were in it, would any mainstream journalist hold back from saying this was an anti-Semitic attack? Clearly not: so why not be open about this being a homophobic attack?
Sky News and Ms Hartley-Brewer just do not understand. They refuse to see this a homophobic crime and they belittle Owen’s views. Eventually Owen gives up and walks off the programme. Good for him.
And here’s the thing. Owen Jones has been one of the very few mainstream journalists to stand up for Muslims when we/they have been attacked. He was one of the first journalists to start using the term “Islamophobia” after 9/11 and he has frequently spoken out against Islamophobia in the press and in politics. He has been a true friend and ally of Muslims who have been up against bigotry and hatred.
It is time to return the favour. The establishment don’t like the thought of solidarity between Muslims and LGBT people. Lutfur Rahman was the first Muslim mayor to mention the need to show solidarity with LGBT people in his very first speech to the Council – but still everyone in the Council Chamber who opposed him kept accusing him, and his supporters throughout the community, of being homophobes.
More on the Orlando attack: