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Football Teams up to Tackle Discrimination

Football Teams up to Tackle Discrimination

Rangers Striker Kenny Miller with the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter sign,

Stuart Malcolm, Brian Kerr (Manager) & David Douglas (Chief Executive) of Albion Rovers

In a Scottish first, professional football clubs in all four of the SPFL divisions have teamed up to better include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by signing up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.

It’s the first time in Scotland that so many clubs have made a commitment to better include LGBT people in the beautiful game and it includes the biggest clubs in Scottish Football.

The Charter includes a set of five principles which aim to remove the barriers to sport for LGBT people. Over thirty governing bodies of sport have already signed up, including the Scottish Football Association.

Signing up to the charter today are Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts, Hibs, Partick Thistle, Rangers, St Johnstone, Dumbarton, Airdirionans, Albion Rovers, Forfar Athletic, Elgin City & Peterhead.

Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager of the Equality Network said, “We’re delighted that these clubs, from across all four SPFL divisions, are today making a commitment to LGBT supporters, officials and the next generation of LGBT players.

Today’s message is loud and clear, everyone is welcome at football and we are working for a more inclusive game.

We don’t yet have any openly LGBT professional players in the men’s professional game in Scotland but we know there are plenty of LGBT fans. Thank you to those clubs who have already taken this step. For clubs who haven’t yet signed up and who want to make their club more inclusive, our door is always open.”

The charter states as its aim that “Scotland will be a country where everyone can take part, enjoy, and succeed in sport at all levels whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity”, it was developed in consultation with sports governing bodies (SGBs), other sports stakeholders and LGBT people.

Celtic’s Scott Brown said, “This is an issue which needs to be addressed and tackled and therefore we are delighted to sign up to the Charter, and promote the very important message that sport is for all.”

Rangers striker Kenny Miller commented, “Rangers is an inclusive club and strives to promote equality and inclusion and we are delighted to sign up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter. “Everyone should be able to take part, enjoy and succeed in sport whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity and we are proud to support this initiative.”

Ann Park of Heart of Midlothian FC said, “We’re pleased to sign up to the charter and are fully supportive of its aims in promoting equal participation and access to sport.”

Hibernian Chief Executive Leeann Dempster said, “Sport has the power to break down barriers, and Hibernian has equality and inclusion at the roots of our heritage. We are happy to sign the LGBT Sports Charter and promote a more inclusive game.”

Russell Anderson of Aberdeen FC said, “Aberdeen FC is proud to have been the first Scottish club to have signalled our intent to sign up to the LGBT Sports Charter and we are delighted that so many other clubs have joined us in doing so.”

Ian Maxwell, Managing Director at Partick Thistle Football Club said, “Football can be a very powerful tool to help fight all types of discrimination. Football is a universal language so no matter what your race, religion, background, gender or sexuality, kicking a ball about or watching your team on a Saturday helps put everyone on a level playing field. That is why, as a club, we are very proud to sign up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter.

“There is no place for discrimination of any kind in football – or sport more generally for that matter – so being able to play our own small part in helping to eradicate it was a no brainer for us as a club. We look forward to working closely with the Equality Network in the coming weeks and months in order to play our part.”

Ann Marie Ballantyne, Chief Executive of Airdrie FC said, “When people say sport for all, they don’t necessarily mean sport for all. In signing up to the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter, and working with the Equality Network, Airdrie FC truly mean sport for all.”

David Douglas, Chief Executive of Albion Rovers FC said, “Albion Rovers FC are fully committed to implementing this charter and believe that our football club should be inclusive, diverse and welcoming to any individual or group. Football teams and football players have a vital role to play in sending out strong signals that everyone has the right to be included and treated with respect and dignity. This is an important area for us and all football teams who want to be seen as modern, progressive and determined to be more than just a football club.”

Martin Johnston, General Manager of Peterhead FC said, “Peterhead FC are delighted to sign up to the LGBT Sport Charter and this reinforces our on-going commitment to ensure people throughout the footballing community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity are able to support, work and play for the club in a warm, friendly and welcoming environment.

We are proud to say that we have had no reports of homophobic abuse and bullying at our club in recent times, and whilst it appears to be virtually non-existent at Balmoor Stadium, we will continue to work within our club to ensure this remains to be the case.”

Hugh Torrance of LEAPSports Scotland said, “We welcome the news that thirteen Scottish football clubs have now signed up the Scottish LGBT Sports Charter, which is an important step in the work that needs to happen to transform the men’s game.

Our work with LGBTI sports fans and communities in Scotland underlines how important strong messages of commitment to equality and inclusion can be when coming from professional teams.”

The Equality Network say this is the first step in coordinated efforts that they hope will encourage more LGBT people to get involved in football. A study by the Equality Network launched in 2012 showed that 57% of LGBT people would be more likely to participate in sport if it was more LGBT friendly, and that football was the sport identified as having the biggest challenges to overcome in relation to LGBT inclusivity.

Blood Donation Briefing

The Equality Network prepared the following briefing for The Scottish Parliament in May this year on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.

Blood Donation Briefing Updated

Scotland loses European top spot for LGBTI equality

Scotland loses European top spot for LGBTI equality

Scotland has been overtaken by Malta in the European league table of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) equality laws and policies. Scotland is now in second place, with a score of 82%, with Malta on 88%. Malta has risen to first place after introducing new laws protecting the rights of trans and intersex people.

The table is published today as part of Rainbow Europe 2017, an annual review by European LGBTI equality organisation ILGA-Europe. Its publication marks International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT – May 17th).

The UK as a whole is now in fourth place on 76%, behind Norway on 78%. The UK composite score is pulled down by the lack of equal marriage law in Northern Ireland.

Tim Hopkins, Director of national Scottish LGBTI equality charity the Equality Network, said, “We congratulate the government and equality activists in Malta for introducing the best laws in Europe to protect trans and intersex people. The Scottish Government have promised to bring Scotland’s laws in this area up to international best practice during the 2016-21 parliamentary session, and to consult on this later this year. Those changes would put Scotland back in contention for the top spot.”

He continued, “The UK as a whole also falls short of best practice in two reserved areas: equality law and asylum. During this Westminster election campaign, we are calling on all parties to commit to amend equality law to fully protect trans and intersex people, and to ensure that people fleeing persecution because they are LGBTI can find asylum here.”

Silvan Agius, Director on Human Rights in the Government of Malta, said, “I am delighted to see that Malta’s efforts in this area continue to inspire others to move forward towards LGBTIQ equality. In essence our story is based on two main foundations – a strong LGBTIQ movement and political will on the part of government.”

The full league table of 49 European countries can be found here (note that the table shows the UK as a whole, not Scotland, but ILGA-Europe have separately rated Scotland at 82%).

More details of the changes needed to devolved gender recognition law, to bring Scotland up to international best practice for trans people, can be found here.

More details of the Equality Network’s five-point election pledge for Westminster candidates can be found here.

Urgent Action: Chechnya

On 1st April, the Russian independent daily newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that hundreds of men, believed by the Chechen state to be gay, have been abducted in recent days, as part of a coordinated campaign of state-sponsored homophobia.

Information circulating widely in the British general and LGBT media report that the men have been tortured, forced to disclose other LGBT individuals known to them, their families extorted, and in three cases, verified by Novaya Gazeta, men have been murdered by their captors. Other sources say that as many as twenty men may have been killed.

We are in contact with the Russian LGBT Network, who have confirmed this information. They are offering support to men who have fled the region, and have created a hotline to help those who may be looking for safety.

Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network, reported to the media: “Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.

“Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”

And in an email to the Equality Network said, “We believe that all kinds of international pressure is a good thing. People are being killed and there is still no investigation.”

Amnesty International report that reactions from Chechen officials to this information have varied from denial (for instance, by Alvi Karimov, the Press Secretary of the Head of the Chechen Republic) to dismissing it as joke.

On 3rd April, the press secretary of the Russian Presidential Administration, Dimitry Peskov, announced that the Russian Ministry of Interior were “checking information about the alleged persecution of men of non-traditional orientation”.

These reports are not only deeply disturbing and concerning, but have rightly led to calls from the LGBTI community in Scotland and elsewhere for international condemnation and pressure to be put on the Chechen and Russian authorities.

The Equality Network supports Amnesty International’s calls for people to contact the Russian and Chechen authorities:

• Urging them to carry out prompt, effective and thorough investigations into the reports of abductions and killings of men believed to be gay in Chechnya, and to ensure that anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes will be brought to justice in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation;

• Urging them to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of any individual who may be at risk in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation and to condemn in the strongest terms possible any discriminatory comments made by officials;

• Reminding the Russian and Chechen authorities that they have an international human rights obligation to prohibit discrimination and to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, the most invidious form of discrimination.

We urge you to sign the petition at: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/…/stop-abducting-and-killing-gay…

We are also calling for the Scottish cities and towns that are twinned with Russian counterparts to make urgent representations to their twins, urging action from the Russian Government. If you live in Glasgow, Perth or Coatbridge please take action now – you can find out how here.

We have written to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs to ask that the Scottish Government make urgent representations to the UK Government, asking them to use available diplomatic channels to pressure the Chechen authorities to end their activities against men thought to be gay.

We also asked the Scottish Government to release a statement condemning these actions of the Chechen authorities. This is something that the Russian LGBT Network have asked other governments to do. You can read the letter here.

Should you wish to support the work of the Russian LGBT Network you can donate on their facebook page.

Urgent Action: Chechnya – Contact your councillor

Do you live in Glasgow, Perth or Coatbridge?

Glasgow is twinned with the city of Rostov-on-Don, Perth with Pskov and Coatbridge with Gatchina, all towns and cities in Russia.

Through twinning partnerships towns and cities can share knowledge and participate in cultural changes. With the current ongoing situation in Chechnya these links could prove a way to influence the government in Russia to halt the state-sponsored homophobia in Chechnya. With the situation reported by the Russian LGBT Network so grave all channels of communications we have could play thier part in influencing activities in Chechnya.

We’re asking you to contact your councillor. Tell them about the situation in Chechnya and urge them to send a message to their twin council asking them to pressure the Russian Government and Chechen authorities. Pressure from within Russia could have far more impact than international pressure which has so far been resisted.

If you live in Glasgow you can find out who your councillor is and how to contact them here.

If you live in Perth/Perth & Kinross you can find out who your councillor is and how to contact them here.

If you live in Coatbridge/North Lanarkshire you can find out who your councillor is and how to contact them here.

Please be polite, you can find out more on the situation in Chechnya and what we are calling for here.

 

 

 

 

 

Equality Network unveils new brand

We launched our new brand identity at our Annual General Meeting in Edinburgh last night, 28 February 2017.

New Equality Network identity

The Equality Network is a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity for Scotland. The launch of the new brand coincides with the 20th anniversary of the charity, which we will be marking throughout this year.

The Equality Network’s role is to achieve real and lasting change for LGBTI equality in Scotland, by working together with diverse LGBTI people across Scotland. At the core of our identity is therefore a new iconic mark. It is a symbol that represents thousands of voices—being heard, being included, and demanding change. It’s the voice of community, change and equality.

The voice icon is an integral part of the brand, appearing in all our materials and campaigns. The new Equality Network logo retains a human element, but its clear and simple design is a move away from the previous complex logo.

Tim Hopkins, Director of Equality Network, said: “We are pleased to unveil the new Equality Network brand identity. Our new brand reflects our position as a go-to organisation for LGBTI equality in Scotland—active, confident and inclusive.”

Tim continued: “We have chosen a new tagline that clearly sums up what the Equality Network does: “Creating change together“. We are all about getting real change for LGBTI equality in Scotland, by empowering LGBTI people across Scotland and working in partnership.”

The Equality Network established the Scottish Trans Alliance project ten years ago. A new identity has been created in parallel with the new Equality Network brand, to help promote the project’s position as Scotland’s centre of expertise on trans issues.

The new Equality Network brand identity has been developed by Glasgow-based Haiwyre Design Ltd. The new brand will be rolled out in a phased approach over the next few months. As part of the brand project, led by our Communications Officer Jenni Nuppula, we have already started work on re-developing our two websites. We expect to launch the brand new websites later this year.

For more information, visit the Equality Network brand page and the Scottish Trans website or contact our Communications Officer Jenni Nuppula on press@equality-network.org or 0131 467 6039.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2017!

There is a lot which is uncertain about the political future just now, with Brexit, Trump, and far-right parties challenging in elections this year in several European countries. But at the same time popular support for LGBTI equality is at its highest ever level in Scotland, and there is a widespread support for equality and diversity in the UK, Europe, the US and elsewhere.

Here are some of our resolutions for the year ahead …

A high priority for us this year is the equal recognition campaign to overhaul gender recognition legislation, including legal recognition for people with non-binary gender identities. The Scottish Government have promised to consult publicly on this in 2017.

The Scottish Government have also promised a bill this year to formally pardon people convicted of the old discriminatory gay sex offences that are no longer crimes, and we will work to ensure that is as effective as possible. And the Scottish Government are due to say soon whether or when they will introduce equal civil partnership, open to couples regardless of gender – something we will continue to press for.

In addition to seeking changes to the law, we will, as always, prioritise a wide range of key equality issues. These include appropriate health service provision for LGBTI people, combatting hate crime and ensuring an effective justice system, LGBTI-inclusive education and other public services, LGBTI inclusion in sport, and supporting LGBTI community groups around the country.

We’ll continue to work to support and promote positive public opinion about LGBTI people, and about equality more generally.

We’ll also support action to minimise any negative effects on equality and rights resulting from Brexit.

A priority will be to work towards all of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex communities getting greater equality, including people all around the country, and LGBTI people with intersectional identities.

As always, our approach will be to work in partnership with our fantastic colleagues in other LGBTI and equality organisations, in Scotland, the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

And of course, progress on these things would not be possible without all the LGBTI people who stand up for equality right across Scotland. All of our work is based on priorities identified through open engagement involving thousands of diverse LGBTI people, and it is your lobbying, campaigning and standing up for equality that makes change happen!

Thank you!

Latest Equality Network consultation responses now online

A key part of what we do is working to influence and improve public policy on LGBTI equality in Scotland. Equality Network’s most recent responses to Scottish Government consultations can now be found in our new Consultation Responses page.

You can visit the page here: http://www.equality-network.org/our-work/policyandcampaign/consultation-responses/

If you would like to find out more please contact Hannah Pearson, our Policy Coordinator, on hannah@equality-network.org

How A Deeply Personal Act Changed a Country

For some of us it was a big thing, we worried about it, planned it for months, toiled over how we would do it and how it would impact our lives. For most today it’s a positive experience, for many it’s a non-event and for too many it’s a negative experience that can have far reaching long term consequences to relationships.

I did it yesterday in the gym, it wasn’t the first time I’ve done it and it won’t be the last. I have to do it when I change job, meet new friends or when accessing healthcare or some services.

I come out. I tell people I am gay.

It’s not an experience unique to me, it’s something that every LGBTI person has done, or thought about doing. Telling others about out sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.

As today is National Coming Out Day, lots of people are sharing their stories of coming out. Whether a positive story or a negative one, the deeply personal act of revealing to people something that may make us seem different, its one which has changed a nation.

Last Friday the results of the 2015 Scottish Social attitudes survey1 were published. The survey is commissioned by the Scottish Government and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and carried out by the Scottish Centre for Social Research. What it revealed was fascinating.

The proportion of people in Scotland who think that same-sex sexual relationships are always or mostly wrong fell to 18%, from 48% in 2000. The figure is the lowest it has ever been, a fall of 30% in 15 years.

The proportion of people in Scotland who would be unhappy at a close relative forming a long-term same-sex relationship fell from 30% in 2010, to 16% in 2015, a 14% drop in just five years. With the most significant figure being that only 3% of people under age 30 would now be unhappy about this.

Attitudes towards transgender people have also improved significantly in the past five years. The proportion of people in Scotland who would be unhappy if a close relative formed a long-term relationship with someone who has undergone gender reassignment has dropped from 49% in 2010, to 32% in 2015, a 17% drop. Again, significantly, only 13% of people under age 30 would be unhappy about this. The proportion of people in Scotland who felt that a transgender person would not be suitable to be a primary school teacher fell from 31% in 2010 to 20% in 2015 an 11% drop.

It’s very clear that public opinion in Scotland on LGBTI issues have changed rapidly, recognising that much more work still has to be done, especially on transgender and intersex issues (which are not covered in the Social Attitudes Survey).

I’m often asked what it was I thought that has made such changes in attitudes possible, I have little doubt it was people coming out. Only 15% of people in Scotland now say they don’t know someone who is gay or lesbian, down from 32% in 2002. We know through research that people who know an LGBTI person are less likely to hold discriminatory views about LGBTI people so with 41% now saying they have a gay or lesbian friend and 21% a gay or lesbian family member, these personal acts of coming out are having a big effect.

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The pioneers of our movement in the Scottish Minorities Group came out when LGBTI people had no rights, bar the right to a solicitor when they were legally arrested. They began Scotland’s progressive journey. As homosexuality was decriminalised more were able to come out, and this continued as equal treatment under the law was slowly won. As more came out, the easier it became, the easier it became the more people were able to come out.

Harvey Milk once said, “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” He understood then the importance of coming out and its effects, 38 years after his death we still have much to do to ensure that everyone who wants to come out can do so with the support of their friends and family and that we consign LGBTI discrimination to the history books.

Scotland is changing for the better, and that is down to the personal acts of every LGBTI person in our country.

1 http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/09/3916

By Scott Cuthbertson

Equality Network welcomes big change in public attitudes

The proportion of people in Scotland who think that same-sex sexual relationships are always or mostly wrong has fallen to 18%, its lowest ever. That’s according to the 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, published today by the Scottish Government. Public opinion on this has changed very rapidly. Previous Scottish Social Attitudes Surveys found that in 2000, 48% thought that same-sex relationships were always or mostly wrong. By 2005 that had dropped to 40%, and in 2010 the figure was 27%.

The proportion of Scots who would be unhappy at a close relative forming a long-term same-sex relationship has also fallen fast, from 30% in 2010, to only 16% now. Attitudes vary a great deal by age – only 3% of people under 30 would now be unhappy about this.

Hannah Pearson, Policy Coordinator at the Equality Network, said, “We very much welcome the continued increase in the majority of people in Scotland who respect and value equally their lesbian, gay and bisexual neighbours. Attitudes have changed very fast, and we think that’s in part due to the leadership shown by successive Scottish governments in promoting equality in the law. It’s also because a lot more people have come out. People are less likely to hold discriminatory attitudes if they have a friend or family member they know is lesbian, gay or bisexual. Only 15% of Scots now say they don’t know anyone lesbian or gay.

Attitudes towards transgender people have also improved significantly in the past five years, but still have much further to go. The proportion of Scots who would be unhappy if a close relative formed a long-term relationship with someone who has undergone gender reassignment has dropped from 49% in 2010, to 32% in 2015.

On this question, transgender people are still the group facing the most negative attitudes. More positively, only 13% of people under 30 would be unhappy about this. The proportion of Scots who felt that a transgender person would not be suitable to be a primary school teacher fell from 31% in 2010 to 20% in 2015.

James Morton, manager of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, said, “We are glad to see confirmation that prejudice towards trans people has fallen. Trans people remain the social group which the largest minority of people in the Social Attitudes Survey would be unhappy to see join their family. However, it is heartening to see much more positive views amongst younger people, and we look forward to the change in attitudes towards trans people continuing.

Tim Hopkins, Equality Network Director, added: “In the Scottish LGBT Equality Report which we published last year, LGBT people identified negative social attitudes as a top issue. Although, as the Social Attitudes Survey shows, views towards the LGBTI community in Scotland have greatly improved over the years, many LGBTI people still face practical discrimination, and hate crime perpetrated by a small minority. More needs to be done to combat this”.