In The South

Stonewall Scotland unveils equality manifesto ahead of May elections

Gary Hart February 25, 2016

Stonewall Scotland, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality charity, has today published is equality manifesto ahead of the upcoming Scottish Parliament Elections.

Stonewall Scotland

The charity will be campaigning on five main pillars:

1.       An education system that is fit for purpose for all young people and where LGBT young people feel, safe, included and respected.  This must be a high priority.  LGBT inclusion in the curriculum can no longer be viewed as best practice, but should be considered an essential part of preparing young people for life in modern Scotland, and central to creating a healthy school environment.  The next Scottish Government must ensure all teachers are trained to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and provide age-appropriate sex and relationships information and advice, as part of an inclusive curriculum.

2.       Fair treatment for LGBT people in public services.  At a time when budgets are tight, it has never been more important that our public services are designed around the people who need them.  LGBT people still continue to face discrimination and poor treatment from the services that many take for granted, be that housing, local authority services and health, social care and mental health services.  The next Government must support public services to better meet their legal obligations for LGBT people and improve access to gender services which are struggling to keep up with demand, leading to long waiting times for trans people.

3.       Tackling hate crime.  The next Scottish Government should spearhead an awareness raising campaign which highlights what a hate crime is, and how people can report it, reflecting the needs of diverse communities across Scotland.  A review of how existing measures to tackle hate crime are working should be undertaken with a commitment to learn from best practice across Scotland.

4.       A review of laws affecting trans people. We know that trans people often have to fight to be themselves, often struggling with a legal system that doesn’t make it easy.  That’s why we’re asking all candidates to commit to reviewing laws affecting trans people, including the Gender Recognition Act and review and act on the devolved aspects of the Transgender Equality Inquiry undertaken by the UK Government Women and Equalities Select Committee at Westminster.

5.       Protecting LGBT rights here and abroad.  Over 400 million people live under laws which punish same-sex sex with the death penalty.  We’re asking the Scottish Government to raise concerns about LGBT equality with governments and international bodies around the world, in consultation with LGBT human rights campaigners in those countries.

Colin Macfarlane
Colin Macfarlane

Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland, said:  “A lot has been achieved during this Parliament; however the biggest risk now is that huge achievements in legal equality may result in complacency.  Legal equality is not enough by itself; we need to encourage candidates to help change hearts and minds in their communities to achieve social equality.  It is not acceptable that 16 years since the abolition of Section 28 in Scotland a staggering 75 per cent of primary school staff and 44 per cent of secondary school staff say that they either aren’t allowed to, or aren’t sure if they are allowed to, teach about LGBT issues in their school meaning thousands of young people feel unsafe and alone at school.  It is not acceptable that one in six LGBT people say they have experienced poor treatment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity when accessing public services in the last three years.  It is not acceptable that every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have to face verbal or physical abuse in their communities simply because of who they are.

“Equality must sit at the heart of the political agenda, and we will call out any instances of homophobia, biphobia or transphobia that we see from any political party or candidate.  Political parties should be thinking long and hard about how they can help us fight for a Scotland and a world where every LGBT person can be accepted without exception.”

Stonewall Scotland is encouraging supporters to share their stories directly with local candidates as well as encouraging candidates to stand up publicly and show their support for equality in their constituencies.

To download the full Stonewall Scotland manifesto, click here: