Five LGBTIQA+ activists were arrested at Glasgow Pride on Saturday after peacefully protesting the police presence.

Several activists engaged in a peaceful blockade against the police leading the parade at the opening of Glasgow Pride. Carrying a megaphone and a banner, they were met with hostility and aggression from officers who grabbed two of the activists and violently pushed them to the ground. The activists were cuffed and pushed into a fence without any explanation. One of the demonstrators, Rob, said “It took [the police] 10 minutes to decide we were being arrested after alternating between excuses.”

Meanwhile the police continue to protect those who spout hateful and damaging rhetoric. At Glasgow Pride, police stood around a second protest group, protecting them from backlash from the pride participants. Those protesters held signs such as “Flee from the wrath to come” and “Prepare to meet God” insinuating that LGBTIQA+ people are sinners simply by existing. These people, shouting at marchers through their megaphone, were given police protection whilst officers pinned the victims of the vitriol against fencing and pushed them to the floor.

Two activists were arrested and detained. Three other activists were arrested and later released.

Pride Glasgow began festivities with a parade on Saturday, where thousands arrived to celebrate at Scotland’s largest LGBTI festival.

As has become common at these kinds of large events, a police presence is organised. However, there has long been a tension between the LGBTIQA+ community and the police, who are often the perpetrators of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQA+ people. It was therefore a surprise that Glasgow Pride decided that the police would take the prime spot and lead the parade.

Historically, Pride parades have been protests against oppression.
Protests for the decriminalisation of gay sex and an equal age of consent are intrinsically linked to police violence, as police officers were the ones taking gay men to prison and providing evidence in the courts that sentenced them.

More recently, as some rights have been won, Pride has become more of a party. This is not to say that we should not celebrate how far we have come, but we still have a long way to go.

It is not appropriate that police should have a presence in the Pride parades. The police are part of a system that oppresses trans people by not taking reports by trans people seriously or by blaming the trans person for being a victim. Further to this, they support the prison industrial complex, which places trans people in inappropriate facilities and denies them access to appropriate healthcare.
The police are a discriminatory organisation that violently reacts to the existence of LGBTIQA+ people, to people of colour and BAME people, to sex workers, to immigrants, refugees and to other marginalised groups.
“We have no pride in racist deportations, transphobic violence, or a system designed to incarcerate our communities and not help them find justice. Our criminal justice system does not protect LGBT+ people, it criminalises and targets them,” says arrested activist Rob.

Since the events of the weekend, even Chelsea Manning has shown her support for the actions of the Glasgow 5.

https://twitter.com/xychelsea/status/899646021382397952

Chelsea Manning was a United States Army soldier who was arrested after disclosing classified and sensitive documents to WikiLeaks. During her detention there was international concern about the conditions of her detention and treatment from guards. Since her release in May 2017 she has been an active Twitter user, vocal in her anti-fascist and anti-police sentiment.

Of course, there are LGBTIQA+ Police Officers, and they are welcome to participate in the parade. But it isn’t appropriate to participate under the blue banner, and it certainly isn’t appropriate to violently arrest and detain trans people for protesting against police violence.

“Sticking a rainbow onto a cop car means nothing if you’re still carting innocent trans protestors off in it,” said Rob. “We will continue to reclaim pride through political action and have actions planned for the future. Pride is our day, our space, and our time to be angry at injustice.”

About Lee-Anne Lawrance

Lee-Anne is a graphic designer and creator of the webcomic only-two. They are Deputy Chair of the LGBTIQA+ Greens and a postgraduate student at Goldsmiths studying MA Queer History.