HAPPY Pride! In normal times we’d be saying that to each other at events large and small throughout the country, bedecked in rainbow colours and (at the very least) hugging with splendid promiscuity. Times being what they are, of course, most events in this Pride Month will be online. It’s not the same, but it’s the way of things.

But that’s not the only difference to most Prides I remember. My first one was in London, in my student days. I had left Scotland for Manchester, seeking the safely in numbers offered by a city with a big queer community. In those days, a Pride event in Scotland seemed like a distant dream; decriminalisation was just less than a decade earlier, and Scotland was yet to really begin a journey towards equality.

But over the years we became a country where equality seemed to become part of the country’s character. We started to achieve legal rights, and Pride events could take place first in cities, then in towns, and now in rural and island communities too.

Over many years, Pride events were as much a celebration of things getting better, as a protest against continuing injustice. Now, things feel very different. This Pride Month, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it’s taking place against a far more troubling backdrop.

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There has always been a minority of society which opposed LGBT+ human rights. For a long time it gained no ground. Then, a new strategy was hatched by religious far-right organisations in the US, a strategy called “Split the T from the LGB”. In short, they had been forced to admit that taking aim directly at sexual orientation equality wasn’t working, but they saw trans people as a wedge issue.

They came up with a toxic blend of half-truths and outright lies. While the basic existence of gender recognition laws was long established, they presented modest proposals for reform as fundamentally new.

While trans people go through years of stress to get past the barriers to accessing services to support their transition, anti-trans campaigners painted a picture of an industrial conveyor belt rushing confused people straight to irreversible treatment.

While trans people are subjected to hostility, abuse and violence, their opponents portray them as a threat to women and children, and old homophobic tropes were repurposed and redirected against them.

Trans people have, of course, always been part of our society, and part of the LGBT+ community, too. That didn’t only become true when the language changed to become more inclusive.

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Over the decades whether our community has called itself gay, gay and lesbian, LGB or queer, trans people have been part of who we are. So the idea of fragmenting our community against one another has always faced opposition on principle. But as well as supporting trans equality on principle, most of us can also see that our opponents won’t rest if they succeed in attacking trans people. It was always clear the rest of us would be in their sights next.

Which is exactly what has happened. While politicians across the spectrum give a nod of recognition toward Pride, and corporate rainbow logos appear on social media platforms, Europe’s biggest LGBT+ human rights organisation faces an onslaught of misinformation, propaganda and direct political attacks, in a concerted and explicit attempt to destroy it.

Those now seeking to bring down Stonewall have no more claim to be fighting for equality than the cops who raided the Stonewall Inn itself. They would hand the most right-wing government in generations an excuse to unravel the progress toward equality which has been made.

HOLYROOD has faced this kind of test before. Back in the very first years of devolution, people like Brian Souter and Cardinal Winning joined forces with journalists and politicians to try to establish the religious right as a force in Scotland, by opposing the repeal of the homophobic hangover of the Thatcher government, best known as Section 28.

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They failed. And in the two decades which followed, the Scottish Parliament has still never once voted against LGBT+ people’s equality and human rights. Progress has sometimes been fast and sometimes slower, but it has continued. Back in 2000 the Scottish Conservatives, and social conservatives in both Labour and the SNP, might have swung things the other way.

Few government ministers of any party would have gone anywhere near queer people’s human rights again for fear of a second defeat, and the social conservatives would have felt emboldened to undermine abortion rights, sex education, equality in family law, and worse.

I dread to imagine what kind of Scotland we’d be living in if that had happened. That threat still exists. If the current attacks succeed against trans people and their allies, and against the LGBT+ community and the organisations which fight for our human rights, don’t kid yourself that the people behind this agenda still stop there.

So yes, happy Pride everyone. But let’s remember every day that only with solidarity across our whole LGBT+ community, and with other marginalised communities, will we make next year’s Pride a happier one.