Scotland Pride festivities attract thousands in Inverness, Stornoway

Sofia Lotto Persio October 7, 2018
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Highland LGBT Forum/Twitter

Thousands of people took part in two separate Pride events in Scotland on Saturday (October 6).

Stornoway, the main town of the Western Isles counting a population of 8,000 people, saw hundreds of people participating in the first-ever Hebridean Pride, according to the BBC.

Ahead of the event, the local Western Isles Council sparked controversy for refusing to fly the Pride flag on the day of the festivities, citing the absence of a weekend worker to lower the flag as a reason, as The Scotsman reported.

Thousands of people gathered at Eden Court in Inverness on October 6, 2018 (John Frightenby/Twitter)

The rainbow flag was instead raised by the Highland Council in celebration of the Proud Ness event in Inverness, the first to take place in the city in 15 years. Organisers initially expected 300 attendees, but at least 3,000 showed up—including former Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale.

“HUMBLED. We estimated 300. Police Scotland say between 3,000-5,000 came to celebrate,” James Mackenzie-Blackman, chief executive of the Eden Court Theatre that hosted the Proud Ness event, wrote on Twitter.

The Proud Ness event was also anticipated by controversy, as Inverness resident Donald Morrison, a home mission worker with the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), submitted a petition to the council last month signed by around 600 people in an attempt to block the festivities, which he described as “obscene.”


Scotland’s Equality Network celebrated the two historic events on social media. (Equality Network/Twitter)

Morrison’s initiative appeared to have backfired, as Scottish LGBT+ activist Scott Cuthbertson noted on Twitter.

“I’d like to pay huge tribute to Donald Morrison who’s done more than he’ll ever realise to bring the #LGBTI community in Inverness and the highlands together and in making #proudness such a huge success!” Cuthbertson wrote.

A small number of anti-LGBT activists were seen at the event—but were drowned in a sea of rainbow flags.

“The contrasting faces of religion at #ProudNess yesterday—a wee minority, fettered by the ignorant bigotry of the past, and a much larger majority presence: open, accepting and loving,” one Proud Ness attendee described on Twitter, where he posted pictures of the peaceful confrontation. “I’m not at all religious, but it’s great to see old attitudes gradually being whittled away,” he added.


Another Twitter user, Ayliean, also posted a picture of defiance of the Christian protesters. In the photo, she can be seen kissing another girl in front of a man holding a banner reading: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner.” She captioned the picture with the words: “Someone’s gotta raise a little hell.”

Ayliean later told PinkNews that the protesters were a minority and that there plenty of supportive Christians attending the march.

In Stornoway too a local resident was confronted with an episode of anti-Pride vandalism. Twitter user Peter Venus wrote in a social media post that the rainbow flag he had put out had been removed overnight.


“Sadly last night someone decided to rip our flag down. Fortunately we had a spare. We celebrate tolerance here, not intolerance,” he wrote.

Asked to provide further details, he told PinkNews he’d rather focus on the positives aspects of the Hebrides Pride, saying: “The fact that so many supported it far outweighs the actions of any detractors on the day.”

Scotland has recently launched a new campaign to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime. The ads directly challenge people with hateful beliefs in the form of a letter, signed on behalf of Scotland.

One read, in part: “Dear transphobes, do you think it’s right to harass people in the street? Right to push transgender people around in clubs? Right to humiliate, intimidate and threaten them online? Well we don’t.”

Another one stated: “Dear homophobes, we have a phobia of your behaviour.”

This article was updated with pictures and comments received after publication.

Related topics: Inverness, Pride, Scotland

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