Scottish LGBTQ+ organisations call on First Minister candidates to continue with commitments to LGBTQ+ equality

Graham Robson February 27, 2023

National LGBTQ+ organisations in Scotland – Equality Network, Scottish Trans, LEAP Sports Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing – have written today (Monday, February 27) to each of the candidates standing to be next First Minister, to ask that they commit to honouring existing Scottish Government commitments to improve LGBTQ+ people’s lives, and to continue progressing LGBTQ+ equality.

The letter asks 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 LGBTQ+ 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

Tim Hopkins, Director of Equality Network, said: “We appreciate that there will be many issues for the next First Minister to deal with. As LGBTQ+ organisations, our concern is that the existing commitments by the Scottish Government, which value and support Scotland’s LGBTQ+ people, will be continued by the new First Minister. Will the candidates confirm that, or is there a risk that those commitments will be dropped?”

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Co-ordinator at Equality Network, said: “Scotland deserves a leader who will continue pushing for equality and human rights in all aspects of life. We need a leader who will do everything they can to ensure we are all free from harm and to be who we are. We must see our humanity and human rights reflected in legislation; they must challenge section 35, and deliver gender recognition reform, we must push for better accessible healthcare, tackle rising hate crime and, we must finally end harmful conversion practices that have devastating long term effects. We need a First Minister who has the strength of leadership, and the willing, to achieve all of this.”

Vic Valentine, Manager of Scottish Trans, said: “While for now this might be a contest about who leads the SNP, ultimately whoever is successful will go on to lead the country. LGBTQ+ people are a part of Scotland’s communities, and trans people are your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. It is absolutely vital that the future First Minister takes decisions in the interests of everyone, and rather than seeing protecting and improving trans people’s lives and rights as an optional add-on, understands that doing so is a small but important part of leading a Scotland in which everyone can thrive.”

To read the letter in full, CLICK HERE