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History

The Scottish Parliament has responsibility for many of the areas of law and policy which affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is vital that Scotland has effective voices working for change. The Equality Network was formed in January 1997 to be one of those voices.

Since then we have campaigned on a range of equality issues and scored some notable successes. This page outlines just a few of the developments since 1997.

We will continue to work for complete equality for all LGBT people in Scotland including those who face prejudice on other grounds as well. Our current work includes ensuring that the voices of diverse LGBT people are heard in policy making, supporting LGBT community groups to be heard, equal marriage law, equality in law for all trans people, and effective measures against hate crime, bullying, prejudice and discrimination.

1997

  • We held the first Equality for All conference in June 1997, and together with UNISON co-organised the first conference for police and the LGBT communities in March 1998.
  • We successfully lobbied to amend the Sex Offenders Bill, to remove discrimination against men who have sex with men.

1998

  • Working in partnership with other equality organisations, we successfully lobbied for amendments to the Scotland Bill to give the Scottish Parliament powers to work for equal opportunities for LGBT people.
  • During 1998, we and our partners worked to ensure that equality was a key part of the core principles and working practices of the Scottish Parliament.
  • Throughout 1998 and 1999, the age of consent campaign saw us working closely with UK-wide and Westminster-focused groups to ensure an equal age of consent for all. The age of consent was finally equalised across the United Kingdom in January 2001.

1999

  • In April 1999, after a second Equality for All Conference, we published “Equality at Holyrood”, our detailed manifesto for LGBT equality under the Scottish Parliament.
  • During the first half of 1999 we campaigned over the Bank of Scotland’s inappropriate links with US far-right evangelist Pat Robertson, and helped to persuade the bank to cancel its proposed business partnership.

2000

  • 2000 saw the LGBT communities’ most intense battle, fighting for the repeal of Section 28 in Scotland. Despite a multi-million pound media campaign by the “Keep the Clause” campaign, and our communities’ endurance of months of public attack, Section 28 was repealed in Scotland in June 2000.
  • The Scottish Parliament recognised same-sex cohabiting couples in legislation for the first time, thanks to an amendment we promoted to the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Bill.

2001

  • 2001 saw the progress of the first year of devolution continue, with the publication of the Scottish Executive’s Equality Strategy including LGBT equality, further recognition in law of the status of same-sex cohabiting couples, statutory duties on some public bodies to encourage equality, including on grounds of sexual orientation, and the repeal of the law against private group sex between men.

2002

  • In 2002, the work of the Equality Network was extended by the YourScotland project, funded by the Scottish Executive Equality Unit to allow the voices of LGBT people to be heard in decisions on equality policy.

2003

  • In 2003, we published our second manifesto outlining what LGBT people wanted the Scottish Parliament to achieve for LGBT equality during the 2003-2007 Parliament. High on the list were gender recognition for trans people, civil partnership, and a change to adoption law to allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt.
  • In the second half of 2003, the Scottish Executive announced their support for civil partnership.

2004

  • We worked with the Scottish Executive on the Scottish parts of the Gender Recognition Bill and the Civil Partnership Bill, and facilitated LGBT groups and people to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament about these bills, which were both passed at Westminster by the end of the year.

2005

  • During 2005, we worked on further changes to family law in the Family Law (Scotland) Bill, which tidied up some minor issues with civil partnership, and equalised the law for same-sex and mixed-sex cohabiting couples.
  • We were funded by the Scottish Executive to raise awareness of and provide information on civil partnership, which came into effect on 19th December 2005.

2006

  • In 2006 we and our partners campaigned to extend the law on adoption to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly. The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill which does that was passed in December 2006.

2007

  • In 2007, following a national consultation on LGBT people’s priorities, we published our third manifesto, outlining what LGBT people wanted the Scottish Parliament to achieve for LGBT equality during 2007-2011. Top of the list were hate crime legislation, and the elimination of sexual offences law discrimination against LGBT people, as well as equal marriage law.
  • In 2007 we received support from the Scottish Executive to place the Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) on a funded basis with a development worker to promote trans rights. This was the first time a transgender rights project had been funded by any national government in Europe.
  • In 2007 we were granted funding by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for the Everyone IN project, a partnership with BEMIS and the first funded project in Scotland to focus on improving services for minority ethnic LGBT people.

2008

  • In February the Scottish Government published “Challenging Prejudice”, a blueprint for work for reducing prejudiced attitudes towards LGBT people in Scotland, developed by a panel of LGBT organisations including the Equality Network.
  • Our Everyone IN project held the first ever events on minority ethnic/LGBT inclusion in Scotland.

2009

  • In partnership with BEMIS we published our Everyone IN research on the situation of minority ethnic/LGBT people in Scotland – the first ever research on this subject.
  • After several years work by us and our partners, the Scottish Parliament passed the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act on homophobic and transphobic hate crime – the first legislation in Europe to explicitly cover transphobic hate crime.
  • Following several years work by us and our partners, the Scottish Parliament passed the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 which finally eliminated sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination from sexual offences law.
  • Together with partners, we launched the Equal Marriage campaign.

2010

  • We held a series of meetings across the north of Scotland: Speak Out Highlands and Islands, to promote and support LGBT people creating local support groups.
  • With partners, we published Halt Hate Crime: a guide to identifying and reporting homophobic and transphobic hate crime in Scotland.

2011

  • In partnership with BEMIS and Glasgow University’s GRAMNet, we published “Sanctuary, Safety and Solidarity” – the first research into the situation of LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland.
  • Based on consultation with LGBT people across Scotland, we published our manifesto for LGBT equality for the Scottish Parliament session 2011-16. It includes equal marriage, actions to improve education, hate crime, and public prejudice, equality improvements by public services, improvements to equality law protections for trans people and better NHS gender reassignment services.
  • Four of the five parties elected to the Scottish Parliament in May had manifesto support for a consultation on lifting the ban on same-sex couples marrying in Scotland.
  • In the final three months of the year, the Scottish Government consulted the public on proposals for same-sex marriage.

2012

  • We continued to campaign for Equal Marriage, and on July 25th the Scottish Government announced that they would legislate to allow same-sex marriage. In December the Scottish Government published the draft Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, for public consultation.
  • We held a European Conference on LGBT intersections with Race and Disability in Glasgow in February 2012.
  • We conducted and launched ground-breaking research on trans health issues.
  • We carried out and published research into homophobia and transphobia in sport, Out for Sport, launched in July at Murrayfield Stadium.