On 6 October 2018, the most northerly city in Scotland, Inverness, is expected to host its first Pride event in over fifteen years. This week, Highland Council confirmed Ness Pride would go ahead as planned, despite a petition to ban the supposedly “immoral” and “unsavoury” event.
Pride parades started as a way to publicly protest against the discrimination and abuse faced by LGBT people, and what has been happening in Inverness shows that spirit of protest is still very much needed. We cannot be complacent about the progress made.
We need to get active and that’s exactly what the people of Inverness have done. Counter-petitions started by local residents in support of Ness Pride have accumulated over 15,000 signatures – that’s twenty-five times the number of the original petition.
Pride gives people the opportunity to come together and celebrate the progress made towards equality. But, it’s also a time to reflect on how much more we have left to do.
Here in Scotland, many LGBT people continue to face alarming levels of discrimination in work, school and in their own communities. Our research has found that one in five LGBT people (20 per cent) have experienced a hate crime or incident in the last year alone due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, while half of LGBT young people (48 per cent) in our schools are bullied for who they are. Pride is a crucial opportunity for LGBT people and allies to stand together and come out in support of equality.
We also know that in rural areas like the Highlands, Pride events can take on even greater significance. This is because LGBT people in rural areas are more likely than those in urban areas to have never attend LGBT specific events or venues (50 per cent compared to 32 per cent), while LGBT people of faith are less likely to have access to inclusive faith groups (28 per cent compared to 38 per cent).
That’s why it is encouraging to see so many local groups organising Pride events for the first time in areas including Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, and even the Outer Hebrides! The overwhelming outpouring of support from the local community and Highland Council for Ness Pride has shown that more and more hearts and minds are changing when it comes to making LGBT rights and equality something that matters to everyone.
By actively supporting their LGBT friends and neighbours, allies can play a crucial role in the fight for equality and can help to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bi and trans person can be accepted without exception, no matter where they live.