Social Justice

Thousands of people across the UK attend vigils to honour Brianna Ghey

Mourners have described a “sombre” mood at vigils across the UK and Ireland to honour the memory of trans teen Brianna Ghey after she was killed last weekend

A crowd of people gather in Sheffield at the vigil of murdered trans teen Brianna Ghey

A crowd of people gather in Sheffield at the vigil of murdered trans teen Brianna Ghey (Tom Pople/Twitter)

Thousands of people across the UK have turned out for vigils to honour the memory of trans teen Brianna Ghey.

Candlelit vigils have taken place from London to Liverpool in the days since 16-year-old student Ghey was fatally stabbed in Warrington on Saturday. 

A boy and a girl, both aged 15, have been charged with Ghey’s murder, and will appear at Chester Magistrates’ Court in due course. 

More than £100,000 has been donated to a fundraising page set up for Ghey’s family, with the page’s creators claiming the student was an “outgoing and confident girl” who “brought a lot of laughter to those who knew her”. 

Holly Lancaster-Smith went to a vigil outside of the Department of Education in London on Wednesday, the first of two vigils planned in the capital. 

“The news affected me on Sunday evening,” she told The Big Issue. “I thought it would be good to share the experience with others as there had been a lot of the trans community affected the same way as me on Sunday evening.”

She added that “a lot more than 1,000 people” had shown up at Wednesday’s vigil, and that there had been a moment of silence before speakers addressed the crowd.

“The atmosphere was quite sombre, interspersed with chants spurred on by the speakers,” she said. 

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Brianna Ghey. Image: Cheshire Police

Tom Pople, a student at the University of Sheffield, went to the vigil in the city alongside 1,000 others. 

They told The Big Issue: “When gays were fighting for their equal recognition and rights a few decades ago the trans community were at the front of Pride by our sides.

“Now that gays have achieved a somewhat equal position within general society in this country, it’s about time that we repaid their historical sacrifices.”

Pictures of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey with the message 'REST IN POWER' are displayed surrounded by candles during a candlelit vigil in her memory on February 14, 2023 in Liverpool, England.
Candlelit vigils are being held across the UK this week for Brianna Ghey, 16, who was stabbed in Linear Park in Culcheth, Cheshire last Saturday. Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Pople said people were in tears at the “sombre” vigil on Thursday. 

“Events like this, whilst being very sad occasions that shouldn’t have to occur, are one of the only ways we can achieve a systematic change,” they said. 

They added: “I just don’t understand how some people can have so much hatred towards [the trans community]… a quick search on Twitter will show how much desire across most of society there is for the trans community to have equal rights.”

Sheffield Solidarity Group, which organised the city’s vigil, said: “The atmosphere at the vigil was one of grief but also power. In coming together to share our grief and sadness, we remember the love and strength that the queer community holds.

“The loss of Brianna is tragic, but we can support each other through this trauma and fight against it happening again.

“We encourage everyone to attend a vigil if possible to pay their respects, grieve, and connect with the community, because our love is stronger than anyone’s hatred.”

There are more vigils planned in the coming days. A list of the locations can be found here.

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