Highlands & Islands MSP Emma Roddick has said that there is still a significant fight ahead in achieving equality for LGBTQ people.
Speaking in a debate celebrating LGBTQ History Month, Ms Roddick highlighted this year’s theme of ‘Behind the Lens’, which aims to recognise the community’s contribution to art and culture throughout history. She shared thoughts with colleagues about a Sapphic poem which was written over 400 years ago by Scottish noblewoman Marie Maitland, saying it was “incredible” that it was written in the first place and still survives today.
Ms Roddick also said that she hoped, when speaking at this year’s Highland Pride event in the summer, that she would be able to say that the political discourse surrounding the LGBTQ community had taken a turn for the better.
“The contribution of LGBTQ people to art and culture throughout history serves as a reminder that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans is natural and normal – our community has been around for longer than anyone can remember.
“However, art created by LGBTQ people – whether 400 years ago or in the present day – is met with resistance, and this idea that we should be hidden away is, sadly, not confined to history.
“A petition just this year, asking the UK Government to ban LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools, got twice as many signatures needed for a debate and we’ve seen similar petitions here in Scotland. Folk are still being told that being queer is shameful and hundreds of thousands of people are willing to put their name to a call for schools to deny our existence entirely.
“This is why Pride events are so necessary, and I am very much looking forward to the return of Highland Pride this summer.
“People are still hiding who they are in 2023, and we all have a duty to change that. That starts with listening to queer people and learning from history, not repeating it.”
• The National Galleries of Scotland blog by Ashley Douglas and information on Marie Maitland’s poem referenced in the speech can be found here: Marie Maitland: Scotland’s 16th century Sappho | National Galleries of Scotland