Pride Glasgow, Scotland’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) pride event, takes place this weekend. The event will get underway when thousands of LGBTI people and their allies march through the streets of Glasgow to Kelvingrove Park.
In a Glasgow Pride first, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, pictured left, will be named honorary Grand Marshal as recognition of her long-standing support for LGBTI equality. She will lead the parade, along with 200 LGBTI young people from across Scotland, through the streets of Glasgow. The First Minister is a staunch supporter of LGBTI equality. As Health Secretary she led on the initial development of equal marriage in Scotland and she has since said that the day equal marriage passed in the Parliament was one the proudest moments of her time as an MSP. As First Minister she has pledged to ensure trans equality by reforming Scotland’s outdated Gender Recognition Act to bring it up to international best practice.
Last year the First Minister became the first serving Prime or First Minister in the UK to address a pride event; this year she will become the first to march. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar have both marched in pride parades recently.
Over 8,000 people are expected to take part in the march from Clyde Place to Kelvingrove Park through the city centre, with over 50,000 spectators expected. As well as colourful floats and walking groups the march will include the Europe’s largest trans flag in support of transgender rights.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m proud that Scotland is considered to be one of the most progressive countries in Europe regarding LGBTI equality and Pride Glasgow is a fantastic event that brings communities together and celebrates all that LGBTI people bring to Scottish life. As a society we must champion equality and fairness at all times and defend the progress that has been made. I am pleased to be named as the first ever honorary Grand Marshal of Pride Glasgow and I look forward to joining young LGBTI people in the parade to mark Scotland’s Year of Young People.”
Alastair Smith, Chief Executive of Pride Glasgow, said: “We’re delighted to name First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the first honorary Grand Marshal of Pride Glasgow in recognition of her longstanding support of LGBTI equality. We can’t wait to welcome her, and tens of thousands of others to the Glasgow Pride celebrations this weekend.”
Suki Wan MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), said: “It’s an honour to have been asked to accompany the First Minister to open this year’s Pride Glasgow.
“Everyone in Scotland should feel safe and happy; safe to be who they are, and to love who they love. We know that isn’t the case for everyone, despite enormous steps which have been taken in recent years. That is why Pride is so important. It allows us to celebrate our differences, while uniting us in our commonalities.”
Meanwhile, on the eve of the Glasgow march, The Democrat’s Ireland correspondent writes:
Many Irish Catholics are concerned that former President Mary McAleese has lost a sense of balance on controversial gender issues, as instanced by her increasingly anti-Church establishment pronouncements on account of her public support for her son Justin, who is openly gay and recently married.
Mary, pictured left, knows what she is doing though. Critics of the Lady from Belfast’s staunchly Catholic Ardoyne misread her calculated contribution to a revolutionary change towards gays, lesbians and transgender individuals under Pope Francis, in contrast to the censorious teachings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Furthermore, it is this issue rather than the ordination of women to the priesthood as called for by Fine Gael minister Josepha Madigan that will be a major topic of debate at next month’s gathering in Dublin of the World Conference of Families.
Overlooked by the Irish media is that the Vatican has used “L.G.B.T.” for the first time in an official document prepared for October’s meeting in Rome of bishops and young people. Recognising that many young Catholics disagree with the church’s teaching on same-sex marriage, it acknowledges that, “Some L.G.B.T. youth, want to “benefit from greater closeness and experience greater care from the church.”
The significance of this usage of “L.G.B.T.” has not escaped American Catholic writer and lay Catholic activist, John Gehring, author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church.
According to Gehrig, this language change by Pope Francis is “emblematic of an emerging shift in the Church’s posture toward gay, lesbian and transgender people. Catholic teaching documents have typically used “homosexual” or referred to those with “homosexual tendencies,” which reduce a person’s multi-dimensional humanity to the mechanics of sex. Using the L.G.B.T. descriptor, often preferred by many gay, lesbian and transgender people, is a sign of respect.”
Remember, too, it was Francis who coined the most famous papal sound bite in history five years ago when he asked rhetorically, “who am I to judge?” when asked by a reporter for his attitude towards gays; and he assured a Chilean victim of clerical sex abuse that God made him gay and loved him.
Picture by Bill Heaney
Furthermore, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, pictured above with Pope Francis, has signed up prominent American Jesuit priest, James Martin, to address the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. Fr. Martin has been banned from speaking at some Catholic institutions in the US simply for encouraging the church to build bridges with L.G.B.T. people.
McAleese is certainly emotional about the Church’s treatment of her son for his sexual orientation, but her reaction is more considered and premeditated than her rhetoric implies.