The first ever Pride event in the Western Isles and the first Inverness Pride event in 16 years will take place today. Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people and allies are expected to take part.
In Inverness, the ProudNess parade will start the event from 9.30 on Falcon Square in the City, with workshops, stalls and live music from 11am in Eden Court. The Highland Council have announced they will be flying the rainbow flag from the Town House and Council Headquarters to support the event.
In Stornoway, the event will start with speeches and music from An Lanntair at noon. At 1pm, there will be a parade followed by stalls, entertainment and refreshments from 1.30pm onwards in the Carlton Lounge.
A spokeswoman for the Highland LGBT Forum organising the event in Inverness said, “We are excited to be holding Proud Ness in Inverness and amazed at the wonderful support we have received from Eden Court, the Council, Equality Network the residents of Inverness, and many others.
“We wish all the best for the Stornoway Pride and we will be with them at least in spirit.
“We are looking forward to a peaceful and fun day, with a little bit of frolicking.”
Susanne Erbida, one of the organisers of Hebridean Pride in Stornoway said, “It’s time for the Western Isles to show support for the local LGBT+ community, especially in light of recent events”.
“It should be a celebration of acceptance and tolerance, a happy, peaceful and positive event. Everyone is welcome to our march, young and old.
“We want to show that it is ok to be different, that LGBT+ people do not have to be afraid to go public with their sexuality. That there is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and anything in between.”
Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager for the Equality Network said: “No matter where you live in Scotland, no matter if you’re LGBTI or not, everyone in Scotland should be able to be who they are and love who they love without fear or prejudice. Our research shows that it’s not always easy to be LGBTI in the highlands and islands of Scotland. That’s why it’s so great to see the LGBTI community and allies coming together today in Inverness and Stornoway for these historic pride events.”
The Equality Network ‘Scottish LGBT Equality Report’ from June 2015 highlighted a rural-urban divide for LGBTI people in Scotland. The report revealed that the experiences of LGBT people vary significantly across Scotland, with those living in rural parts of the country reporting a significantly worse experience than those living in urban areas. A quarter (24%) of LGBT people in rural parts of Scotland say that their local area is a ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ place for LGBT people to live, compared to half that (12%) in urban areas. Almost half (47%) of LGBT people in rural areas say that they feel isolated where they live, compared to a quarter (23%) of those in urban areas. Over half (55%) in rural areas say that services in their area do not meet the specific needs of LGBT people, compared to a third (30%) of those living in urban parts of Scotland.
The first Pride in Scotland took place in 1995 in Edinburgh. Until last year, only two Pride events were staged regularly, one in Glasgow and the other in Edinburgh. However, in 2018, twelve Pride events have taken place already – including Dumfries, Aberdeen, Livingston and Dundee. Scotland’s first ever Trans Pride event was also held in Edinburgh in March this year.