PRIDE Month has come to an end, and the tension between celebration and protest has never been clearer. With a few exceptions (well done Orkney and Shetland!) we have had to accept that Pride events were online or nothing, for the second year in a row.

Of course, it’s not just the LGBTQ+ community that restrictions have been tough for, but Pride is inherently about marginalised groups reaching out, being together and, most importantly, creating a visible presence that can’t be ignored; a joyful, in-your-face assertion that the closet door will never be closed again. A Zoom call doesn’t cut it.

But that hasn’t been the most troubling part of the context for Pride this year. As many of us have been warning for years, what began as a fringe group trying to portray trans people as a threat to others has broadened and deepened.

It now spans unhinged online conspiracies through to core Conservative Party strategy. Its tactics range from hounding individuals who speak up for equality and trans-inclusive feminism, to a media and government campaign against human rights defenders.

READ MORE: Patrick Harvie: Never forget origins of using trans people as a wedge issue

At my first Pride march, nearly 30 years ago, I felt excited and optimistic. This year I feel afraid. This country is at risk not only of stalling on equality, but of returning to far more dangerous conditions for anyone who isn’t straight, cisgender and socially conservative.

The truth is there’s nothing inevitable about progress toward equality, and in a number of other countries around the world modest steps forward have been followed by a backlash of hatred and prejudice, usually stirred up deliberately by those seeking political self-interest.

The National: Viktor Orban delivers his annual State of Hungary speech (Zoltan Mathe/AP)

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán

Hungary is a case in point. Like many European countries in the 1990s and 2000s, it saw progress on issues from discrimination protection to partnership law. Now, hard-right and populist politicians at both local and national level are embarked on a campaign to demonise LGBTQ+ people, removing their legal rights, openly encouraging discrimination and prejudice, and even outlawing expressions of support for equality.

This vicious campaign against LGBTQ+ people’s human rights was the reason for the attempt to light the Munich football stadium in rainbow colours for the Germany-Hungary game recently. Uefa’s response that it “respects the rainbow” but must also ban it – without even mentioning the people whose human rights it represents – was the most vapid imaginable.

Could Scotland or the UK go the same way as Hungary? Certainly there are troubling signs. There’s a UK Government which is openly pursuing a “war on woke” strategy, targeting marginalised groups including trans people in an attempt to copy the US hard-right’s culture war agenda.

There’s a media landscape which routinely platforms transphobia and other anti-LGBTQ+ voices, but where actual trans people are almost never heard. There’s a network of anti-trans organisations, set up in the last few years, which pretend to represent feminism or lesbian, gay and bisexual equality, but in reality are directing all their fire at anything trans-inclusive.

And all of these elements are now working together in a concerted effort to destroy Europe’s biggest and most successful LGBTQ+ human rights organisation, Stonewall, on the basis of conspiracy theories, misinformation and plain old-school prejudice.

As for Scotland, nobody rational would compare Holyrood’s most prominent politicians to Viktor Orban … or even to Liz Truss! But you don’t have to look far in most political parties to find people in elected office who happily parrot the same talking points, trying to convince the public that trans people are a threat to women or children; that they are mentally ill; that they are predators; and that even the limited healthcare and legal rights they have achieved in the last 20 years must be dismantled.

READ MORE: Uefa's apolitical decision to ban pro-LGBT display was overtly political

Such views are less prevalent at Holyrood following May’s election, with several transphobic MSPs no longer in Parliament. But instead of being a result of deliberate choices by parties, that’s because of retirement or defeat.

As far as I’m aware, no MSP has ever been deselected for transphobia, any more than the homophobic MSPs who have spent decades taking every possible opportunity to vote against the human rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Indeed, Scotland’s former First Minister was only too happy to give such views a home in his new ego-trip party.

The National: Alex Salmond

What started as a peculiar anti-trans obsession was always going to broaden into an attack on others. It’s now so ubiquitous in the media that it would be easy to imagine it’s the mainstream view.

But while anti-LGBTQ+ voices may have powerful platforms, it remains the case that most people don’t share the hostility.

There is nothing inevitable about progress toward equality. But there is nothing inevitable about defeat either. While Hungary has descended into dangerous territory, other countries, such as Spain and Norway, have continued to make progress even just this month.

Both Scotland and the UK are at a tipping point. Which way we go from here is down to all of us.

If Pride is both protest and celebration, let’s remember that it’s only the protest that will give us something worth celebrating when Pride events return to the streets next year.