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NICKY MARR: World’s campaigning work is not done

By Nicky Marr

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Pride of ScotRail launched last weekend.
Pride of ScotRail launched last weekend.

We’re not likely to see the Pride of ScotRail train north of the central belt because it’s electric, so would run out of juice around Stirling.

That’s another column for another day… diesel carriages dirtily puffing around the north of Scotland is hardly conducive to achieving net zero.

But the launch of Pride of ScotRail last weekend has hit headlines far beyond the train’s proposed routes between Edinburgh and Livingston, and Bathgate and Helensburgh.

The train looks glorious, painted in the eye-catching colours of the Progress flag, which – I am learning – represents more of the LGBTQ+ community than the Rainbow flag. But this is not a simple diversity box-ticking exercise for ScotRail. The train will be around much longer than the Pride Month of its launch, remaining in circulation till 2029.

The carriage is, as explained by Lesley Kane, ScotRail commercial director, “a visual commitment” to the LGBTQ+ community, and “a reminder that we won’t tolerate bigotry or discrimination”.

Lesley added: “Regardless of background or your identity, you should feel welcomed and safe when travelling.”

The press release resulted in a mild flurry of media interest, but the story really started to gain traction after the sharp response on Twitter from the ScotRail social media team to a query from a member of the public. They tweeted: “I take it you’ll also be painting one in straight colours? Or will we be discriminated against?”

Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster...Picture: Callum Mackay..
Nicky Marr - coach/writer/broadcaster...Picture: Callum Mackay..

Ste from ScotRail was immediate with his response: “Straight people aren’t punched in the face for holding hands with their life partner, nor are the[y] executed in other countries simply for being straight. Please educate yourself on the matter before commenting such nonsense.”

Brilliant. In just a few words ScotRail Ste managed to articulate why there still needs to be a Pride Month, why there is a #BlackLivesMatter campaign, and why we need International Women’s Day.

Because until non-straight, non-binary, non-white, non-able-bodied, non-male people the world over are treated with respect, dignity, and equality, and have the same opportunities to advance and flourish as everyone else, then the world’s campaigning work is not done. And simply churning out the phrase All Lives Matter belittles and denies the injustices that still exist.

I know. Look at me – I’m hardly a symbol of oppression. I’m straight, white, middle-class and able-bodied. I’ve been blessed with opportunity in my personal relationships, in education and in my working life. I’ve had the tools with which to fight my corner when I’ve (rarely) felt discriminated against or threatened, and although I wish those situations had never arisen, I feel stronger for having overcome them.

But we don’t have to look far to see that there is still a mountain to climb in terms of racial equality, real acceptance of LGBTQ+ lives, and disability rights too. The Pride of ScotRail and Ste’s golden tweet are an example of lives being made a little better. Well played, all.

Read more from Nicky Marr.

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