The organisers of the Hebridean Pride Festival have hit out at a visit this week by the new Scottish Family Party to the islands.
Scottish Family Party representatives are touring Isle of Lewis community venues, with meetings scheduled last night (Monday March 4th), tonight and on Wednesday.
The Scottish Family Party is led by former UKIP member Richard Lucas and sets out policies including promotion of marriage and rejection of state intervention in family life. Three public meetings in Lewis were set for this week – in Stornoway, Barvas and North Lochs.
Hebridean Pride supporters have been carrying out a private campaign of messages to all three of the proposed venues, explaining their view that the Scottish Family Party ‘spreads hatred and division’.
A spokesman for the Caladh Inn responded to messages from Pride supporters saying: “Hosting this event does not mean that we agree with the views of this party.
"Our aim is to make all guests feel welcome in our hotels, which are listed as LGBT friendly. In the recent past we were very happy to host a same-sex wedding reception.”
The booking with the Caladh Inn was cancelled yesterday by the venue and the meeting was changed to the County Hotel. Writing on their Facebook page yesterday (Monday) a Scottish Family Party spokesman said: “Watch this space for the next two nights as well. Venues might cancel or reinstate at any time! I'm hoping that the ferry company will honour my booking to come back on their boat.....”
It’s not the first time that the party has been pressured over public meetings this year. A meeting in Aberdeen in January had to take place in a bar after a hotel cancelled its booking at the last minute.
Party leader Richard Lucas challenged Hebridean Pride supporters to meet him today, saying: “There is a lot of misunderstanding and irrational hostility here. We hate no one.
"I'd be happy to meet with people during the day in the next couple of days. A face-to-face chat might help engender mutual understanding.”
The 2019 Hebridean Pride Festival is to be held in Stornoway on June 1, following the success of the first event last year.
Last month the organisation was successful in a National Lottery Awards for All funding application and said: “As a result of being awarded £9550 we will be able to bring together our isolated LGBT+ community, introduce a ‘Safe Space’ initiative with local businesses and bring the whole community together to celebrate inclusion by holding our first Pride Festival in the Western Isles.”
Picture shows the first Pride Parade in Stornoway last year. (Hebridean Pride).