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Thousands hit back in Inverness pride march row

By Philip Murray

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A FLOOD of support has poured in for the Highlands’ LGBT+ community after a petition condemning a planned gay pride march sparked controversy.

Proud Ness is set to take place in Inverness on October 6, and the organisers have applied for permission to march from the High Street to Eden Court.

But Donald Morrison, a home mission worker with the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), last week submitted a petition of around 600 names opposing what he termed an "unsavoury event" arguing that marchers in other cities "frolicked unashamedly on rainbow-coloured floats making obscene sexual gestures."

It is understood the number of signatories has since increased to around 700.

But his claims have sparked a strong reaction online.

And three rival petitions calling for the council to ensure the march goes ahead as planned have racked up more than 9000 signatures between them in the space of just two days – outstripping the original protest 13 times over.

Gemma-Louise McPhee, who set up one of the pro-march petitions, said the original petition calling for the event to be blocked on moral and religious grounds had been "heartbreaking" for her and other members of the LGBT+ community.

The night porter, who lives in Inverness, said that when she came out she had found the response to be "welcoming and happy".

"This petition is the first time we’ve felt unwelcome and unwanted. And it was the worst feeling ever – who are they to tell us who we are?" she said.

But she was delighted with the response since then, with more than 3000 people having signed her petition in support of Proud Ness by midday yesterday.

"We thought maybe we’d get 100 or 200 signatures max," she added. "But it blew up and we’re so grateful to everyone who is supporting us."

She said she was hopeful that the response would be "the beginning of something", adding that there were few social opportunities in Inverness for the LGBT+ community when compared to the scenes in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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