Around 4000 people gathered last night in Trafalgar Square for a vigil prompted by the homophobic attack in that same square on Ian Baynham on 25 September. Ian died of his injuries a few weeks later. A month later, to the day, James Parkes was set upon by a mob of 20 youths in the gay quarter of Liverpool.
Ian and James are sadly not alone. In London only, 1,192 homophobic offences were reported in the year to September 09, up from 1,008 the previous year - a rise of 18.3% and an average of almost 3 per day. Most attacks go unreported.Speakers at the 2 hour vigil hosted by Sandi Toksvig included friends and relatives of Ian, Richard Barnes (Deputy Mayor of London), a female priest at St Martins in the Field who was vicar of Soho at the time of the 1999 bombings, a campaigner bearing witness of homophobia in eastern and central Europe, Chris Bryant MP (Minister for Europe) and Maria Eagle MP (Minister of State for Equalities and twin of the only out lesbian MP) who read a message from Gordon Brown, and comedian Stephen K Amos. Sue Perkins read the names of some of the victims of homophobic violence over the last 10 years after the 2 min silence at 9pm.The event also had an international angle with people being invited to take part in the moment of silence wherever they were. A lettre from Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk's nephew, was read out by the director of the newly open LGBT tourist office.There were also musical contributions from a mass choir bringing together members of the LGBT choirs of London, Brighton and Hove, Birmingham and Reading as well as the London Gay Symphonic Winds.