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Journalist Storms Off TV Show After Hosts Refuse to Call Orlando Tragedy an Act of Homophobia


If this shooting took place in a synagogue, people would quickly accept that it was an anti-semitic attack. Why is this massacre treated differently?

A highly-regarded journalist stormed off the set of a live television segment when the host and guest refused to recognize the Orlando shooting as an attack on LGBT people.

Owen Jones, a gay Guardian columnist and the author of The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, appeared on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sky News on Sunday with the show's host, Mark Longhurst, and guest Julia Hartley-Brewer. In the group's discussion about the Orlando tragedy, Jones continually called the event a "homophobic hate crime" and "an intentional attack on LGBT people." Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer disagreed, calling it a crime against humanity instead.

"It is one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the western world for generations and it has to be called out as such," Jones said.

Longhurst responded that this crime was carried out against "human beings," who were "trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality." Hartley-Brewer agreed, saying that the killer may have taken equal offense against her as a "gobby woman."

After eight minutes of back-and-forth between Jones and the host and guest, Jones said, "I've had enough of this," and removed his microphone to leave.

Jones took the the Guardian to explain his disgust following the conversation. He explained that if this shooting took place in a synagogue, people would quickly accept that it was an anti-semitic attack. However, Jones described how the television commentators refused to recognize the shooting in a gay club as a homophobic attack. "This was homophobia as well as terrorism," Jones wrote. "It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened."

In a statement, the British LGBT campaigning organization, Stonewall, which in 2012 named Jones as Journalist of the Year, said, "We were disappointed to see not just how Owen was spoken to, but also some of the general points being made on the Sunday edition of Sky News' paper review. Owen is an asset to the lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality and his tireless efforts over the years have contributed so much to the journey we have come on."

After receiving abuse on Twitter, Hartley-Brewer defended her position, writing, "I will not be told what I can and cannot say because I do not live in an Islamic state." Jones has since asked supporters not to harangue Hartley-Brewer, tweeting, "(P)lease lay off @JuliaHB1 - none of the abuse directed at her is in my name."

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