Almost 20,000 people marched in solidarity for LGBT rights this weekend in Glasgow and Inverness as locals celebrated Pride.
On Saturday, the inaugural MardiGla march was held in Glasgow, with an estimated 7,000 people taking part in the parade from Kelvingrove Park to George Square.
The event was organised by The LGBT Co-op as a new Pride event for Scotland’s biggest city, after a troubled year for incumbent Pride Glasgow. The LGBT Co-op had earlier announced the cancellation of ambitious plans for a huge street festival around the Merchant City area of Glasgow due to a lack of funding, but the community turned out in significant numbers to march and show their Pride.
The huge march included a number of city businesses such as Morrisons, STV, Glasgow Taxis and Tesco, as well as representation from the city’s big football teams Rangers, Celtic and Patrick Thistle.
There were a number of political speeches in George Square from local politicians, including the Lib Dem’s Jo Swinson MP and the SNP’s Stewart McDonald MSP, with many people using the civic centre of the city to hold impromptu picnics, reclaiming the space once used for Pride in years gone by.
There was also an afternoon of live entertainment and music arranged at the nearby Strathclyde Union on John Street, where thousands enjoyed stalls from local groups as well as performances from Scottish boyband Just The Brave, X-Factor’s James Hughes, tribute acts and Pride veteran performer, Allan Jay.
Religious protesters outside Queen Street Station were drowned out by cheers and whistles as the parade passed by, a tradition over the past few years in Glasgow.
Organisers at MardiGla faced legal challenges earlier in the year from Pride Glasgow after a dispute over who could call themselves the city’s Pride event, leading to the frustration of many members of the community. They also faced criticism for the costs to march in the parade, with many businesses and organisations being asked to contribute £500 to take part, with additional charges of hundreds of pounds for a stall at the Strathclyde Union venue. This was too much for long-time Pride supporters UNISON, who pulled out ahead of the march. They said in a statement:
Meanwhile Pride Glasgow continue to plan their own march and fringe programme in August, when Pride will return to the city on Saturday 17th. The hope of many is that both organisers can come together and resolve their dispute for 2020.
On Sunday, Inverness was the focus of Scotland’s Pride as the Highland capital was filled with rainbows and happy faces!
The second annual Proud Ness event certainly enjoyed some excellent weather for the majority of the day, which brought an estimated 10,000 people to enjoy a march through the city and then a festival event at Bught Park.
Teaming up with Highland Council, the organisers made good use of the infrastructure from the Inverness Highland Games held on the Saturday and they certainly needed the extra space, with an almost doubling of the attending from 2018.
Pride go-ers enjoyed live entertainment, stalls, a food marketplace, stalls and information as well as the Ruff Ness dog show! There were plenty rainbow pooches in the parade who enjoyed their day in the sun and lapped up the attention!
The helpful volunteers and excellent planning by the core organisers was a real credit to the city and to Scotland, securing Inverness as one of the country’s top Pride events.