Saturday , 14 December 2019

Patrick Harvie on the legacy of Pride House for Glasgow and the world

Patrick Harive
Patrick Harive

I catch up with out bisexual MSP Patrick Harive, co-convener of the Scottish Green party, during a visit to Pride House Glasgow.

As we talk about the vast array of events taking place at the house, as well as view the exhibition running on LGBT People of the Commonwealth, I ask Patrick a few questions.

What kind of issues do you think, do the Commonwealth Games raise for LGBTI people in Scotland?

“For most people the games are about sports and very many LGBTI people have been excluded from it.

“I grew up with a pretty clear message that being good at sports and PE was about being a boy, being homophobic and heterosexual was about being a boy. These kind of sexual and gender stereotypes are still very prevalent in the way most people engage with sport.

“So if we want our community to be more engaged and active with sport, challenging homophobia within sport is crucial.

“In many countries of the Commonwealth LGBTI rights are not about pensions or inheritance they are about life and death.

“If Scotland, the games now being held in Glasgow, and the rest of the UK can challenge constructively homophobia and transphobia in countries that have not seen the same progress we have made in the last few decades, then we have a chance.

“If we can build links with human rights activists within those countries, meet them on their terms, help them grow in their capacity and prioritise their own objectives, then we have a chance.

“The chance being that at least, that in future Commonwealth Games, to have more countries, perhaps all members, respecting LGBTI people as equal citizens as well as part of their national teams.”

So what would you suggest could be done against anti-LGBTI sentiments and legislation?

“It’s easy to condemn homophobia and transphobia in the Commonwealth countries and throughout the world, and it is necessary, but it is not enough.

“If we are really serious about making progress in these countries we need to build these relationships I have spoke about.

“It is not safe for LGBTI people in these countries, in much the same way it wasn’t safe for us here in the 50s and 60s.

“We need to sit with LGBTI activists from homophobic and transphobic countries and hear what their needs are, not attempt to teach them – we must find out what their needs are.

“Such a pragmatic approach, as opposed to finger wagging, can help us build a future where less and less people will suffer from homophobic, misogynistic and transphobic legislation and discrimination in their societies.

And what about the future of LGBTI rights in Scotland?

“Scotland, whether it is independent in the future or part of the UK can be proud of the support given to Pride House and to equality in general, but a track record of 30 odd years of progress in terms of cultural, social, legal, political equality for our queer communities in Scotland.

“But we shouldn’t rest on those laurels, we should be determined to take this story and project it outwards throughout the world, be internationalist and find allies to work with in other countries so one day we will be able to say, that nobody who is LGBTI will suffers persecution, harassment, discrimination.

“Pride House is scheduled to close at the end of the games, what do you think could or should be its legacy?

“I think Proud House Glasgow can have both a domestic and global legacy.

“On a domestic level, Glasgow hasn’t had now for years an LGBTI community centre, and it really needs one.

“I think the fact that we have a successful Pride House up and running could be seen as a trial run for getting back to something like a community space and hub in Glasgow.

“I’d like to see us taking lessons from how different organisations have taken measures to make this happen so we can have something of lasting legacy to Glasgow’s LGBTI community.

“Local organisations, groups can see how this has come together in Pride House in partnership with local and national government and take note. There is some backing from Glasgow Council and it has recently done a feasibility study but we are not there yet.

“Globally what we need to be sure of is of continual relationship with equality activists from around the world and the commonwealth who were here last week and visiting us the next, or with whom we have established links; We must not stop thinking about them once the games and Pride House are over.

“The homophobic movement is a global one – many of the far right American organisations have shifted their resources to the developing world because that’s where they know they will have fare more success.

“Well, if they are going global, we are going as well – and activists in Scotland, the UK, Europe and the rest of the world need to work to achieve this kind of progress domestically globally.”

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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