Guardian journalist Owen Jones, who is also gay, joined presenters Mark Longhurst and Julia Hartley-Brewer on the newspaper review segment last night to discuss the devastating shooting in Orlando which President Obama described as "act of terror and an act of hate".
Speaking to the US press, Mateen’s father claimed that his son, an American citizen, became enraged at the sight of two men kissing in Miami, and that this may have played a role in his targeting of the popular LGBT club, Pulse.
Longhurst and Hartley-Brewer played down that link, saying that it wasn’t certain the clubgoers were targeted because of their sexuality, drawing comparisons between Pulse and the Bataclan venue which was attacked in Paris in 2015. Jones argued that it was clear that Mateen was a ’homophobic terrorist":
"People rationalise their hatred. This guy, apparently, according to his dad, saw two men kissing and he was repulsed by it.
"And people know this who are gay, that there are people out there who are sickened and repulsed by our very existence and this guy, however he dresses up his bigotry and hatred, is somebody who hates gays."
Comparing the attack to the Bataclan, Longhurst said that they were just "human beings" who were "trying to enjoy themselves, whatever their sexuality."
Tensions rose when Jones disagreed, saying "I’m sorry, but you don’t understand this because you’re not gay".
Visibly upset, Jones said, "I’m sorry, I just find this the most astonishing thing I’ve ever been involved in on television. If he 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 anti-Semitic attack. This was a deliberate attack on LGBT people."
He then decided to walk off, saying "I’ve had enough of this, I’m going home,"
There has been widespread support for Jones’ stance on Twitter.
And Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted the following.
50 people were murdered simply for being gay. I think we should all be angry about THAT, not about some contrived offence taken on a tv show— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) June 13, 2016
While both Jones himself tweeting his thanks but reminding everyone that the focus shouldn’t be on him.
Thanks for all the lovely comments: but it really was just an instinctive reaction to an unpleasant situation, this isn't about me.— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) June 13, 2016