LGBTQ+ organisations’ concern as two SNP candidates have not confirmed they would continue with government equality commitments

Graham Robson March 14, 2023

National LGBTQ+ organisations in Scotland have expressed deep concern that two out of three of the candidates for SNP leadership have not confirmed that they would continue with existing Scottish Government equality commitments.

The organisations wrote to all three candidates two weeks ago. With voting starting on Monday, March 13, only Humza Yousaf has replied. In his reply, he commits to maintain the existing commitments. His reply can be found here.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “It is a matter of great concern to us that two of the three candidates for First Minister have not confirmed that they will continue with these clear commitments of the current Scottish Government. LGBTQ+ people will fear that equality could be about to go backwards.”

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Coordinator of the Equality Network, said: “Two weeks after writing to the candidates asking for a commitment to LGBTQ+ equality, and after LGBTQ+ equality has become a repeated talking point within the campaign hustings, we have still had no response from Kate Forbes nor Ash Regan. The commitments that we had asked them to respond to are long established, with work well under way and years in the making. It would be devastating for equalities in Scotland if this work were halted. No response is deeply concerning to the sector.”

Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “It is disappointing that so far only one candidate to be First Minister has committed to continue the current Scottish Government’s policies on LGBTQ+ equality.   Scotland has made remarkable progress over the last 20+ years on LGBTQ+ rights and LGBTQ+ people. Our friends, families and allies will want to see that continue.  We sincerely hope that the two candidates yet to respond to our letter will make time to do so and commit to make Scotland a country where all LGBTQ+ people are free to be themselves.”

The letter two weeks ago was from the Equality Network, Scottish Trans, LEAP Sports Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland, and LGBT Health and Wellbeing. It can be found here.

It asked candidates to confirm their support for five existing commitments of the Scottish Government:

  1. Honour the Scottish Government’s commitment to ban conversion practices through a bill introduced this year, to protect LGBTQ+ people from attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, which can cause great harm.
  2. Keep the GRR Bill on the Parliament’s books, and commit to seeking the revocation of the section 35 order whether via the courts or by agreement with the next UK Government, to allow trans people access to a fairer and simpler process for legal recognition of who they truly are.
  3. Honour the Scottish Government’s commitment to improve the health of LGBT+ people, through refreshing and improving the mental health strategy and work to prevent self-harm, and by continuing to fund transformation of NHS gender identity services for trans people, so that LGBTQ+ people in Scotland are able to live happy and healthy lives.
  4. Show leadership on improving attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, at a time when hate crime targeting people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is on the rise and public discourse, particularly around trans people, is increasingly polarised, to ensure Scotland is a safe and welcoming country for all.
  5. Continue work on implementing LGBT-inclusive education, to ensure that young people can grow up knowing they will be accepted and supported for who they are, can see their families reflected and included in their learning, and to reduce LGBTQ+ young people’s experiences of bullying because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.