Police hike patrols around Oslo Pride

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Police in Oslo have decided to raise their presence around the Oslo Pride festival set to begin this weekend. The massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando has boosted the need for more preparedness, says Inspector Johan Fredriksen of the Oslo Police District.

A large group of gay police officers marched in the parade, carrying a banner reading that they are a police force serving everyone in the community. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

The Oslo Police District has often had its own gay, lesbian and trans officers out marching in the Oslo Pride Parade. This year they’ll be boosting patrols as well, after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

“We have had a high presence at this event earlier,” Fredriksen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Monday afternoon. “It’s absolutely clear that as a result of what has happened now (in Orlando), we will be even more visible.”

He said police would also engage “other measures tied to the events,” without specifying what they may be. The main goal, he said, is to make all participants feel safe.

Oslo Pride has evolved into a festival not just for gays and lesbians also to celebrate diversity and equality regardless of sexual preference. “We understand that (the massacre in Orlando) can create fear and plague those who want to express themselves and celebrate diversity and equality,” Fredriksen told NRK. “These are important democratic values that the police of course will support, regardless of whether here are any actual threats.”

As the flag at the US Embassy flew at half-mast on Monday, in grief over the 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the shootings by a lone gunman known to hate gays, hundreds of mourners also gathered across the street from the embassy, to hang up rainbow flags, lay down flowers and otherwise express sympathy. Hans Heen Sikkeland of FRI, which champions gender and sexual diversity, told NRK the massacre will undoubtedly have an effect on Oslo Pride events, which is being arranged by FRI this year.

“This kind of incident stirs completely natural emotion and fear among many of us,” Sikkeland told NRK, “But I don’t think we need to fear similar incidents here in Oslo. As of now we feel confident that this will be a good and safe festival.”

He said he was reassured that the police are taking security seriously and will be following events closely. The Oslo Police District has also had its own entry in the annual Pride Parade through the streets of downtown, with its own lesbian, gay and trans-gender officers out marching in full uniform.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund