Culture

Owen Jones Storms Off Sky News After Presenters Downplay Homophobic Nature Of Orlando Attack

“This has to be called out for what it is: an intentional attack on LGBT people.”

Guardian columnist Owen Jones has stormed off the set of Sky News after enduring six minutes of two seasoned journalists trying to “deflect” the true nature of last night’s Orlando attacks.

Despite widespread reports that gunman Omar Mateen’s violent rampage on LGBT nightclub Pulse was motivated by homophobia, host Mark Longhurst and co-panellist Julia Hartley-Brewer consistently played down this element of the attack.

The frustrating exchange began when Jones voiced his anger about the incident not being reported as a “homophobic hate crime”, to which Longhurst responded that it was “carried out against human beings”. And things just escalated from there…

Jones: “This has to be called out for what it is: an intentional attack on LGBT people.”
Longhurst: “On the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves as the Bataclan was.”
Jones: “Excuse me – you don’t understand this because you’re not gay.”
Longhurst: “Whether I’m gay or not has no reflection on the fact this person killed 50 people.”
Hartley-Brewer: “You don’t have ownership on the horror of this crime because you’re gay…”

The heated exchange continued until Jones stormed off the set in frustration. “I’m sorry, I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television,” he said before walking off. “If he [the gunman] had walked into a synagogue and massacred dozens of Jewish people, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying now. You would be talking about it as an antisemitic attack. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people.” Watch the full exchange below.

Fifty people were killed and 53 injured in the attack on the Pulse nightclub at around 2am on Friday night (local time). In the wake of the attack, social media has voiced similar concerns to Jones about the persistent downplaying of the homophobic motives behind the attack.