Queer MSP Emma Roddick 'gutted' after Shetland Pride speech cancelled 'in favour' of older male MP Alistair Carmichael

Pride organisers should be ‘more careful’ when it comes to platforming voices, a young, queer, female MSP has said after she claimed her speech was cancelled in favour of an older male MP.

Emma Roddick, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands and a queer woman, told The Scotsman she felt “gutted” after her speech at the first Pride in Shetland was “cancelled”.

Thousands took part in Shetland's first Pride festival on Saturday which drew interest from across the world.

Yet, the 24-year-old MSP has now raised safeguarding concerns for marginalised voices at future Pride events.

Emma Roddick has raised safeguarding concerns after her speech at Shetland Pride was cancelled in favour of Alistair Carmichael speaking (Photo: Lisa Feguson). NEWLY ELECTED MSPs ARRIVE FOR THEIR FIRST DAY AT THE SCOTTISH PARLIMENT

Minutes before the MSP was meant to go on stage at Pride in Shetland, an organiser told Ms Roddick Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP, was going to give a speech instead.

“I was gutted. I knew what I was going to say and I had pretty much been planning it since April,” said Ms Roddick, "I stayed and listened and clapped during Alistair’s speech.

"I posted a tweet about it as it was in the Shetland News that I was going to be speaking at the event so I didn’t want folk to think I hadn’t showed up.”

To make up for the cancellation, Ms Roddick was asked to speak at an evening party on the same day, however, she said her speech amounted to “a few words”.

The MSP said: “It was a very different sort of speech as it was a dance party and there were far fewer people. They brought me on but after 9pm everyone was drunk and just wanted to dance.”

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However, Kerrie Meyer, founder of Shetland Pride, said it is “untrue” the event “chose” an older straight man over the MSP, adding: “There was no political bias whatsoever.”

Ms Meyer said: “Due to the fact we planned that Emma was to speak in the evening, and Alistair Carmichael wouldn’t be attending that part of the festival, in order to provide ‘political balance’ I personally invited Alistair Carmichael to address to crowd. Emma knew this because I mentioned it to her.

"I am rather upset with Emma’s attitude surrounding this incident. She evidently publicised she was going to speak at the Pride Village, but I was not privy to that.

“I have apologised unreservedly to Emma for any confusion that may have occurred on our part, but she remains solidly unrepentant about tweeting her feelings publicly.

“The way she handled her displeasure has tarnished what was a very successful Pride Festival and has brought me and Shetland Pride into disrepute. As a charity that has the best interests of the LGBTQ+ community at heart, her public outcry has damaged the whole essence of our Pride Festival.”

Yet, asked if she had concerns male voices were being platformed over women with lived experiences, Ms Roddick said: “I’m very used to, as a young woman, being pushed to the side for male colleagues but you feel like Pride should be a place where that doesn’t happen.

"It really was an incredible event but this was quite a shadow cast on it for me. I was so grateful to be asked to do the speech but it was taken away because a man showed up.

"That’s my community so if it happens there what hope do I have everywhere else?”

Ms Roddick said female politicians will have “misogyny experiences” like this everyday.

The MSP added: “This might look small but when it happens over and over, it’s exhausting.

"Misogyny is still an issue at all levels of society but politics allows people to climb the ladder for putting down women.”

The MSP said she hopes, in future, organisers will be “more careful”.

Alistair Carmichael, aged 56, said he did not know about the mix-up and was not aware Ms Roddick was even present.

The MP for Shetland and Orkney said: “I was asked earlier in the week if I would speak.

"As local MP, I was going to be there any way and I was delighted to accept.

"I have been a supporter of Shetland Pride since the project first started and I thought that the organisers did an outstanding job.

"I would prefer to keep my focus on the event and the hard work of the people who made it happen. Apart from this, I have heard nothing but favourable comments about the event."

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