Vandals are being hunted by Police after scrawling graffiti along the Edinburgh Pride parade route last weekend.
The words “Pride Not Profit” were spray-painted onto several buildings through the city centre, including at the newly developed Bristo Square, where the Pride parade ended.
Banners carrying the same message were hung from a bridge in the Cowgate, directly above Pride marchers. Atleast one protester was handing out leaflets with messages urging Pride-goers to boycott commercial organisations, specifically targeting RBS and Barclays Bank – both represented with a strong workforce presence in the parade.
Police Scotland confirmed to Pink Saltire that they have been investigating the offences.
The protest centres on a view that Pride is becoming a commercialised event, with large businesses seen to be ‘buying’ positive equality headlines by sponsoring LGBT events and taking part in Pride marches. There have been similar anti-commercialisation protests during Glasgow Pride and a Free Pride event was established in the city in 2015 with a focus on full accessibility and representation of marginalised voices. There is no suggestion these groups are linked to the vandalism in Edinburgh.
Pride Edinburgh Chairman, Brett Herriot, blasted the vandalism:
“[We] condemn the graffiti and distraction caused by the Pride Not Profit movement. As much as we have the right to march and to celebrate diversity and equality, others have the right to counter that, but to destroy and deface property, some of it historical property, can never be condoned. We are proud that this behaviour did not detract from the excellent behaviour of Pride-goers.”
Addressing the issue of commercial organisations being involved in Pride, Brett continued:
“We fully intend to keep our event free and accessible to all – we engaged with a number of organisations, including RBS and Barclays Bank, both of whom have great LGBTI networks and we will continue to build on those relationships. If the Pride Not Profit movement can replace the [commercial] income themselves we would be happy to speak to them. We believe they might have to pay for the damage they caused first.”
Pink Saltire talked to a number of marchers during the Pride march, many feeling that the graffiti and banners were unnecessary. Craig, 32 from Leith, said:
“I work for a big company in the city and I’m proud that our workplace is represented here – we have LGBT+ staff and they want to march with the name of our company on our t-shirts and show that we’re a diverse and welcoming company to work for. There isn’t some nasty agenda here, it’s LGBT people that usually organise their companies involvement in Pride so this protest just seems to be hitting the very community they say they want to represent. They dont represent me, that’s for sure.”
Another Pride marcher, Jenni 24, who travelled from Hawick, felt the protest was mis-directed:
“I just feel this is a bit intimidating for LGBT people to be targeted like this during a Pride march. It’s not the Pride goers who are at fault here, if these protesters have a gripe against corporations, then take it to their offices and stand and shout as much as they like outside the big businesses, but doing it here just seems really wrong to me.”
Edinburgh University confirmed there had been an incident of vandalism on Bristo Square and that it would be dealt with in the same way as similar acts of graffiti.
Pic credit: STV