Trustees at Pride Glasgow have issued a legal letter threatening legal action against the organisers of a new LGBT festival in the city.
The letter instructs The LGBT Co-op (organisers of MardiGla) to stop using phrases that Pride Glasgow say are “inaccurate” and demand a public apology to the community for confusion caused.
In response, MardiGla have released a stinging statement defending the right of any organisation to promote a Pride event in the city and said they “will not be intimidated”.
The row has erupted after MardiGla released a copy of a legal letter, often known as a ‘cease and desist’ letter, received from Pride Glasgow’s solicitors, advising them to remove various social media posts and threatening legal action within the next 7 days.
The letter states:
“We are advised that you are using social media as a platform for promoting [your] event. Our client’s have no issue with the event or indeed the way you chose to promote it.”
“What is unacceptable and will not be tolerated is your blatant attempts to mislead the public into believing you have taken over responsibility for the event from our clients.”
“Statements such as those mentioned….. are completely inaccurate. They…. are designed to have the reader believe you have assumed responsibility for all of Pride Glasgow SCIO’s events.”
Pride Glasgow provide two examples in the letter of the inaccurate statements which they say are misrepresentative of the charity’s work by MardiGla, allegedly posted on social media, although no evidence was provided:
“Mardi Glasgow are organising Pride this year.”
“This year Mardi Gla are glad to be running Glasgow’s Pride events.”
Reaction to the legal letter was swift and robust from MardiGla organisers though, with a statement on social media receiving over 100 comments and reactions from members of the public in the first couple of hours.
The full statement is here, but says:
“Pride belongs to every one of us as a community and not a few Directors / Trustees of a company and our community has decided you no longer have the right to run Pride.”
“We will not be intimidated. Now is not the time to be silent – this is an attack on all of us. We said we were building a movement for change in Glasgow – we are now being forced to line our movement up against this attack.”
“We will defend the rights of the Pride flag belonging to the community and not one company.”
Many have been supportive of MardiGla’s reaction and their plans for a new LGBT Pride event in the city, while others have challenged Pride Glasgow for being “arrogant”.
Meanwhile others have said the public disagreement between the organisations is unhelpful and called it a tit-for-tat argument.
At the heart of this new turn of events seems to be whether an organisation can say they are running a Pride event in a particular city if there is already an incumbent in place. I this instance, it’s not yet clear whether Pride Glasgow SCIO have also issued proceedings against Free Pride, who have run a successful Pride event in the city for a number of years.
If not, the charity is in danger of appearing to target MardiGla specifically in what some might see as an act of intimidation against a new community group. If MardiGla are unable to use the words “pride” and “Glasgow” in relation to their event, what impact does this have on other LGBT organisations operating in the city and any future projects or events they plan – would they be at risk of litigation?
Pride Glasgow have struggled to regain confidence among some members of the community since ticketing issues came to light at last years event, with hundreds of people held outside the main gates at Kelvingrove Park after tickets were oversold.
This led to the departure of the charity’s Chief Executive and Depute CEO and financial irregularities being unearthed, which are being investigated by Police Scotland.
Christopher Lang, chair, Pride Glasgow said:
“Pride is a movement. Everyone is encouraged to participate. That’s what is so special about our community. We have no desire to continue unnecessarily or accelerate any disputes but we must challenge when our reputation is at stake.
“Pride Glasgow is an organisation which has the LGBTQ community at the heart of its mission. We know we let ourselves and other people down last year and we’ve given our apologies, but we made a promise to everyone that we’d have everything resolved for 2019.
“It was essential that we looked within to address issues, make improvements and turn things around. We’ve taken the last six months to appoint a new board of trustees, review and revise our structures, processes and governance, plus appoint experts to ensure our much-loved event is safe, fun and accessible.
“As a result, we’re delighted to say that we’re almost ready to make an announcement about Pride Glasgow 2019. What’s important to us is that we all must work together as a community and remember the purpose of Pride.”