SYDNEY Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has said that while many might be scared by this week’s tragic events in Sydney’s Martin Place, the city remains “a beacon of diversity and tolerance”.

The organisation also invited Parade goers, who so wished, to pay tribute to Tori Johnson at next year’s Mardi Gras.

Johnson, the Lindt café manager who died in this week’s tragic siege, lived with his partner of 14 years Thomas Zinn in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern.

According to The Australian, Johnson and Zinn met in the US while both were studying hospitality at Washington State University and moved to Australia in 2004.

In a statement released this afternoon, Mardi Gras said: “We must ensure that everyone is made to feel welcome in our beautiful city and that this tragic event doesn’t change our openness, acceptance and embrace of people from all communities.”

Mardi Gras sent their condolences to the families of Johnson and Katrina Dawson, the mother of three who was the other victim of the incident.

Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson

Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson

“In particular, we are sending our sympathies to Tori’s long-term partner, Thomas, and Katrina’s husband Paul,” the organisation stated.

“If community members wish to pay tribute to Tori as part of their Parade entry then Mardi Gras would support this.”

Screen shot 2014-12-17 at 5.24.33 PM

Thomas Zinn (Source: Facebook)

A statement released by the Johnson family, and also publicly posted on Zinn’s Facebook profile, said: “We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for.”

The family said they felt “heartfelt sorrow” for the family of Dawson and thanked the “people of Sydney” for their support and the efforts of the police and paramedics.

Lindt Australia chief executive Steve Loane said Johnson had been with the company for just over two years and had built a “great rapport” with customers at the company’s flagship Australian store.

“By nature he was a perfectionist and he had a genuine passion for the hospitality industry and people,” he said.

“He was a really important part of our management team in Australia and his loss is absolutely tragic.”

Talking to the Star Observer, Heffron state Labor MP Ron Hoenig, whose electorate includes much of Redfern, said Johnson would be remembered.

“We woke with sadness on Tuesday morning to hear that two innocent people had tragically lost their lives following an unimaginable experience,” he said.

“My thoughts are with the families of both victims and of course with those who survived the ordeal but will undoubtedly have scars that will need healing.”

Main image: The floral tributes at Sydney’s Martin Place. (Source: ABC News)

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