Actor and LGBT+ activist David Paisley leaves Scotland because he ‘no longer felt safe in his home’

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Actor and LGBT+ advocate David Paisley has said he is leaving Scotland for an unknown location because he doesn’t feel safe in his home anymore due to sustained online abuse and threats.

On Tuesday (31 August), the River City star opened up on social media about the “big and difficult” decision to leave his home country. He wrote on Twitter about his deep love for Scotland, but he said it was time to do “what’s right for me and my wellbeing”.

“I’ve decided to leave Scotland, in part because I no longer felt safe in my home,” Paisley wrote.

He continued: “I love Scotland, and I’ve so much love for Glasgow. I think Scotland has an amazing future. I just have to do what’s right for me and my wellbeing.”

In a later tweet, he acknowledged that “not everyone has the luxury to be able to move and start again elsewhere”. He also sent his solidarity to the Scottish LGBT+ community, especially the trans community.

“You’ll always have my support and love, and I stand beside you always as an ally, a friend and proud LGBTQ+ rights advocate,” Paisley said.

Paisley, who is originally from Falkirk, has been a regular on UK television for several years. He has starred in several popular shows including Casualty, Holby City and EastEnders before landing his longstanding role as Rory Murdoch on the Scottish drama River City.

In a statement to PinkNews, Paisley shared that he has been subjected to a “large amount of online abuse over the last year from anti-LGBT+ accounts, including death threats” and accusations that he abuses women and children.

“This started to spill over into my work and home life,” Paisley explained.

He said an “anti-LGBT+ group made false malicious complaints to the BBC” and “organised their followers on Twitter to do the same”. This led to the BBC starting an official investigation which “thankfully concluded that the complaints had no merit”, Paisley added.

Regardless, the actor told PinkNews it was “very distressing to be targeted at my workplace.

“A few weeks ago, I was made aware that a male follower of this group claimed to know my address and made threats against me, so I had to leave my home for my own safety,” Paisley said.

He continued: “The messages were passed to the police. Since these incidents I’ve struggled with feeling unsafe both at home, at work and when I’m out in public in Scotland.

“I was having panic attacks, and it’s caused a lot of stress and anxiety.”

Paisley shared that the “toll all this has taken on my sense of wellbeing was just too much”. As such, he said he had “stopped going out and became very withdrawn”.

“It had a very profound impact on my mental health, and I had to get support from my local mental health team and my employer,” David Paisley said in the statement.

He added that Scotland is “my home” and he loved living there, but he would prefer to be somewhere he is “less recognisable” and where he can feel secure and safe. He also declared that the country should be a “place where all people feel free to live and be who they are without fear of abuse, intimidation or discrimination”.

Paisley told PinkNews that he is “starting again in a new place” and has “made some big life changes” which he is really excited about and has wanted to do for a long time.

“So, in some ways the change has been positive and worthwhile,” Paisley explained. “I’m just sad that part of the reason I’ve had to make these changes is the actions of abusive anti-LGBT+ people online and in Scotland, that make it hard for LGBTQ+ people to live freely and feel safe.”

Just a brief look at Paisley’s presence online details his tireless advocacy for the LGBT+ community. This includes retweeting support for the Rainbow Railroad, a charity helping LGBT+ Afghans flee the country, and repeatedly denouncing the anti-trans group LGB Alliance.

He even started a Change.org petition to ask the media to stop providing an “uncritical platform for the contentious organisation”. The petition has reached over 36,000 signatures to date.

David Paisley has previously told fans that he was subjected to threats of violence and needed to move to ensure his safety.

In June, the actor revealed on Twitter he had to flee his home after “individuals posted my details online” including where he lived and “made threats to my personal safety”. He wrote that police put his home on a “rapid response”, but he decided to leave “due to safety concerns”.

A BBC spokesperson told PinkNews that it has aduty of care to all our talent and have offered support and advice to David in recent times in light of various online activity”. The spokesperson added: “We are aware David is making a move away from Scotland and wish him well.”

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