Despite a weather forecast of cloud and showery rain, Saturday 20th June brought a good day for this year’s Pride Edinburgh March!
Hundreds of people from the LGBTI community, along with their friends and supporters, gathered outside the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. There were banners of all kinds, shapes and sizes: community banners, LGBT Health & Wellbeing banners and flags, the Gay Men’s Chorus, Stonewall, the Equality Network, Augustine Church, the Unitarians and many more (I could not see them all). We marched behind our own banner, the Sukkat-Shalom Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community, which had been designed for last year’s Pride Scotia March by our Rabbi, Mark Solomon. Last year we were campaigning for Equal Marriage and our banner reflects that.
Everyone had gathered at 11.30 a.m. (or earlier) and the march set off in good spirit and good voice at 12 noon. The marchers were accompanied by two drum bands which gave a exciting dimension to the walkers, encouraging them along with the strong beats of some fantastic drumming. The rhythms were accompanied by various whistles, as they are usually, adding to the air of excitement.
I met the march in the Royal Mile opposite Canongate Church – it was wonderful watching the approach up the hill of the banner of the various contingents who were taking part. This rather put me in mind of soldiers marching up a hill behind their pennants and colours as they would have done hundreds of years ago when marching into war. In one way we were marching into war – we were marching against the injustices still suffered by our LGBTI brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are suffering so much – many of them being killed for their sexuality, for who they are. As well as protesting against injustice we were also celebrating the freedom we have in our country and celebrated the achievement of Equal Marriage during the last year when it was passed by the Scottish Parliament. It was a great sight!
At Parliament Square we had our customary halt to listen to various speakers – MSPs, MPs, City Councillors and other notable people. Congratulations were shouted out to Ireland who had been the most recent country to have achieved Equal Marriage and the only country to have had the decision made by a Referendum of all the people of Southern Ireland. Well done Ireland! There were “shout outs” for the various organisations which were marching with their banners there was a special mention of an Edinburgh High School which had come to protests about bullying in schools of LGBTI pupils. The honourable mentions included a “shout out” for the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community! We felt rather chuffed about this as it was the first time we had been recognised from a speaking platform. A minute’s silence was held to honour the memory of all LGBTI people who had died during the year since our last Pride March. One speaker told us that this was the most joyful Pride March she had ever attended! This was met with loud cheers!
We then marched off down George IV Bridge to the Pride Arena in Potterrow: we were not able to use the Bristo Square by the McEwan Hall this year as there were major refurbishment works in progress. The Cabaret Stage for live entertainment, Tea Dance, Community Health Fair, Club Zone and Ceilidh were held this year inside Teviot House where food and bars were available from mid-day. Celebrations continued until late for many.
Our Community at Sukkat Shalom has been supporters and upholders of the Human Rights of the LGBTI community; in fact it was one of the founding principles in our Constitution that we would be a Jewish community to serve ALL Jews in Scotland regardless of their gender or orientation. We are the only totally inclusive Jewish community in Scotland, welcoming everyone. We have been very active over many years in all the campaigns by the Equality Network, the Equal Marriage campaign & the Scottish Parliament and have marched many times in support. Liberal Judaism was the first Jewish organisation to write a special Service for same-sex marriage “Covenant of Love”.
This was my fifth Pride March and I was not disappointed. I had looked forward to it for a long while and really felt a part of it and more comfortable. All in all it was a fantastic atmosphere and I look forward to our next Sukkat Shalom march with Pride Edinburgh!