Legend says that St Valentine was imprisioned because he performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry, as well as for ministering to minorities persecuted by the Roman Empire.
He was executed for his unwillingness to convert to the state religion. Of course, now, we associate him most with his messages of love.
At Shetland LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) we feel like we have received the best Valentine’s Day gift possible this year from the people of Scotland.
We are very pleased that the equal marriage legislation has been passed overwhelmingly by the Scottish Parliment. Although it has been approved after the English and Welsh laws, it has been in development for far longer. This enhanced consultation process has resulted in broader support as well as with a much more progressive set of laws.
Scotland can now stand proudly beside such standard bearing Nordic nations as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. We hope that Scotland’s example will inspire other countries to follow on gender equality issues.
Many of our older members never expected to have so many privileges extended to them in their lifetimes. There have been tears of joy from couples who have been together for years and years.
Those of us raising children welcome the ability to have our families recognised and protected. We hope our younger members will never need to face institutional prejudice.
We are ordinary people trying to live our lives with dignity and integrity; we welcome the ability to do so without fear of persecution. We are confident that these shared rights will help to create a stronger and more just society.
We are happy that equality has now been extended to us. We also welcome the new freedoms avaible to heterosexual people to form civil partnerships and to religious groups to determine for themselves if they would like to bless all marriages.
Expanding human rights allows society itself to expand and become better.
We also recognise that this historic political change was made possible in part due to outstanding local support. Thank you to all the businesses and organisations and groups who have shown support for us.
In particular, we would like to commend the Shetland Library and Shetland Arts for organising LGBT history events each February for many years now.
We thank everyone who has found the courage to challenge fear and prejudice. Even voicing support on Facebook or the internet can relieve a sense of isolation. We think accepting diversity and allowing for variety makes society both richer and more stable. We believe the world is improved with every act of love, tolerance and equality. Thank you for helping to make things better and brighter.
On behalf of the Shetland LGBT we wish everyone in Shetland the most fabulous Valentine’s Day ever for 14th February.
Clint Sentance (chairman)
Vikki Brown (secretary)
Pitt Lane, Lerwick.