GLASGOW, Scotland — Thousands of people marched in Pride Glasgow on Saturday, throughout the city, climaxing in a star-lined whopping street party.
The parade, now in its 18th year, kicked-off at Clyde Place before making its way through the city to the main festival site in King Street.
Pride related events run until 3 August alongside the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, which start on Wednesday.
Strathclyde Police stated that around 3,500 to 4,000 people took part in the parade, despite the damp weather.
Street party participants included Amelia Lily, Lucy Spraggan, Heather Peace, Marcus Collins, Angie Brown and the Krankies.
Also on stage were key LGBT activists from throughout the Commonwealth, Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Sophie Bridger of Stonewall Scotland praised the organisers saying Pride Glasgow “has turned a corner, being now far more pro-actively promoting trans issues” and becoming “less of a boys’ club.”
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart welcomed Pride Glasgow and said: “This is a great day for Scotland; this is the first annual Gay Pride Parade and Main Event in Glasgow since the Scottish Parliament voted for the equal marriage bill earlier this year – it is a celebration of the success the LGBT Community in Scotland and the journey we have all made as a country.
“Scotland has set out a clear intention to be seen as a world leader in equality, and that is a message that will be even more visible with a Yes vote and independence.”
Organisers stated the Pride Glasgow festival would highlight the issues of anti-LGBT laws and sentiments that exist in Commonwealth countries, of which 42 of the 53 still criminalise same-sex acts and gender identity.
Danielle from Pride House Glasgow told KaleidoScot that the Commonwealth Games “gave us the opportunity to use the games to both encourage participation in sport (with the associated health advantages) and also to highlight LGBT issues – in particular the need to challenge homophobia and transphobia,” both in Scotland and throughout the Commonwealth.
She also noted that the project is funded only during the games and that there “remains a need for greater consideration to achieving LGBT equality through sport as part of the games’ legacy.”
Other participants told KaleidoScot that they believe countries that persecute and discriminate against LGBTAIQ people should be banned from the Commonwealth organisation and games.
Alistair Stewart, Assistant Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust stated: “Pride Glasgow was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity of LGBTI voices from across the Commonwealth. The Kaleidoscope Trust was delighted to be there along with inspirational activists from across the Commonwealth.
“It’s vital that we use the spotlight afforded by the Glasgow Games to engage with and educate all the people of the Commonwealth.”
Marching for the first time was Affirmation Scotland, a pro LGBT group of Church of Scotland (CofS). Speaking with KaleidoScot, Rev Lindsay Biddle, the groups chair, said: “Affirmation Scotland grew out of a number of affirming churches who wanted the religious freedom to bless same-sex unions…and now there are several affirming churches and many Kirk members who are now active in taking forward the message of inclusivism.”
Ross, another CofS minister added, “the Church of Scotland clergy have a disproportionately loud voice as far as
the media are concerned, and clergy are generally listened to rather than challenged. But that’s not the reality we’re seeing [as more and more members support increased pro-equality measures]”.
This year also saw another political dimension related to upcoming independence referendum in September.
Ross, a spokesperson for YesScotland told KaleidoScot: “It’s a simply matter of having a written constitution. If you have that, the equal rights provision can be guaranteed and we no longer have to live in fear of successive governments at Westminster eroding our liberties.
“An independent Scotland would have the opportunity to enshrine equality into its constitution.”
A spokesperson for the Better Together told KaleidoScot: “There has been a lot of progress made in the last few years throughout the UK. The idea
that Westminster is some kind of barrier to LGBT equality doesn’t stand up to any evidence. No government [in
Scotland or the UK] would ever dare turn back the clock now.
“If you want a fairer society, do you work to improve what we have, or do we take one massive leap into the unknown?”
A small protest also took place in front the Kings Street car-park which was used to host the festivities. Participant Maxine told KaleidoScot that she objected to a £5 charge to “stand in a car park” and questioned “what this means to inclusiveness.” She also said she felt “commercial interests are ‘ruining’ the event” and that it was “inappropriate that all the information stalls are within the paying area.”
Checkout our gallery of Pride Glasgow photos, taken by our journalist and photographer, Andrew Page.