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Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report

The Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report is Scotland’s most comprehensive study of hate crime against LGBTI people. Based on a detailed survey of 1,445 people in Scotland, the report reveals shocking statistics – click here to read a PDF copy of the report. (To order printed copies please use the form at the bottom of this page).

The report was published in October 2017, in advance of National Hate Crime Awareness Week which runs between 14th-21st October.

Key findings of the research include:

Prevalence of hate crime

65% of lesbian respondents had been a target of a hate crime at
some point in their lives.

66% of gay male respondents had been a target of a hate crime.

53% of bisexual respondents had been a target of a hate crime.

80% of trans respondents had been a target of a hate crime.

77% of the relatively small number of intersex respondents had
been a target of a hate crime.

90% of respondents who had been a target of hate crime
experienced it two or more times, and nearly a third (30%)
experienced hate crime more than ten times.

Nature of hate crime

• The types of hate crime experienced included being targeted by
verbal abuse (95% of respondents who experienced hate crimes
experienced this), threats (79%), physical attack (50%), online
abuse (36%) and sexual assault (21%).

• The most common location in which hate crime had been
experienced was in the street, followed by public venues such as a
pub or café, and public transport.

Reporting hate crime

71% of people who experienced hate crimes did not report any of
the incidents to the police. Only 5% reported every incident they
experienced. Reasons for not reporting included people thinking
that it was not serious enough, believing nothing would be done,
hearing of previous, poor experiences of reporting, and fear of the

Of those who did report a hate crime they experienced to the
police, 41% were satisfied with the police response and 39% were
dissatisfied. Reasons for dissatisfaction included not being taken
seriously, receiving an unsympathetic response and / or lack of
LGBTI awareness from police officers.

Prosecution of hate crime

Where respondents knew that a hate crime they reported had
been referred to the Procurator Fiscal (PF), only 25% were satisfied
with the interaction they had with the PF. 51% were dissatisfied.
Reasons for dissatisfaction included a lack of information or
communication, as well as perceived lack of support from the PF.

Where a case went to court, only 25% were satisfied with the
court process. 58% were dissatisfied. Reasons for dissatisfaction
included a lack of information or communication, a stressful and
unpleasant court experience, and lack of awareness from the
sheriff of LGBTI issues.

Where the perpetrators were found guilty, 30% of respondents
were satisfied with the sentence that they received, while 55%
were dissatisfied. The main reason for dissatisfaction was that the
sentence appeared too light. Some respondents suggested that
education would be more effective than a sentence like a fine.

Perceptions of hate crime and the law

Over a third (36%) of respondents felt that LGBTI people do not
have enough protection from the law in relation to hate crime. 28%
felt that the protection provided by the law is enough, while 36%
were unsure.

• 37% of respondents said that the introduction in 2010 of laws in
Scotland covering anti-LGBTI hate crimes had made them feel
safer, while 30% said this had not made them feel safer.

• 45% of respondents feel less at risk of hate crime now than five
years ago. 42% feel the same risk, and 13% feel more at risk than
five years ago.

Although the report makes for difficult reading, the Equality Network hope that people will find it informative and useful, and together, we can work in tackling all forms of hate crime. In the report there are a range of recommendations to ensure better responses to hate crime, to encourage reporting of hate crimes to police, and to prevent hate crime from happening in the first place.

The Equality Network would like to thank all of the individuals who participated in the survey, for taking the time to share their experiences and views. Their contributions will help to inform thework of the Equality Network and the Scottish Trans Alliance to improve the handling of hate crime in Scotland.

If you have experienced a hate crime, or any other crime, you can report it to Police Scotland by calling 101 or via their website:

In an emergency always dial 999.

If you want to speak to a specially trained LGBTI Liaison Police Officer, you can request to do so. You can also ask that you are visited by officers in plain clothes if you prefer, and if you feel safer meeting somewhere other than your home, a local library for example, the police can arrange this for you.

Download a PDF copy of the full report here: https://www.equality-network.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/en_hc17-full_final1alores.pdf


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Hate Crime


Nobody should experience hate crime because of their sexual orientation, gender-identity or sex characteristics, but we know that lots of people do.

That’s why we are delivering a new initiative as part of a new National LGBT Hate Crime Partnership which brings together 35 LGBT organisations from across England, Wales and Scotland, and is being delivered on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The project is being led by the LGBT Consortium.

We want this project to let LGBTI people living in Scotland know that the law is there to protect them, and we are working with Police Scotland and the Crown Office to make sure that they support people in the best way possible if they report an incident.

There shouldn’t be any barriers, perceived or otherwise, to reporting a hate crime. We hope that by working with our partners we can encourage more people to recognise a hate crime, report it to the police, and get the support they are entitled to.

Research has consistently shown that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people experience high levels of hate crime, that is verbal, physical, sexual assault and other crime perpetrated against them because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 allows the penalties that are imposed on people who commit crimes to take into account a motivation of prejudice based on sexual orientation and transgender identity. Importantly, it is the perception of the perpetrator which is taken into account not the identity of the victim. This means that whether the victim identifies as LGBTI or not, if the perpetrator’s actions are motivated hostility towards LGBTI people then the legislation applies.

Getting help

The police in Scotland have done a great deal of work to reach out to LGBTI communities and to encourage people to report hate crime. Remote reporting allows people to report a hate crime through another organisation, without speaking directly to the police. It is also possible to report hate crime that you have witnessed, to the police on their website. Click this link for Police Scotland information on reporting hate crime.

The LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing provides a range of community safety services including remote reporting. Click this link to be taken to their website for more information.

Equality Network welcomes Lord Bracadale’s report on hate crime law

The Equality Network, the Scottish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) equality charity, welcomes the publication today of Lord Bracadale’s independent review of hate crime legislation.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “We welcome the report, and we hope that the Scottish Government will soon introduce a bill to update the law. We are pleased at the recommendation to update the existing law on hate crimes that target transgender people and those that target intersex people, recognising the difference. And we welcome the proposal for a new offence to deal with the stirring up of hatred through threatening or abusive conduct. This will fill a gap created by the repeal of the non-football related provisions of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. Changing the law is not the whole answer though; more needs to be done to further improve responses by police, prosecutors and courts, and to encourage people to report crimes to the police.”

The Equality Network’s Scottish LGBTI hate crime report 2017 found that 64% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Scotland have experienced hate crime. For transgender people the figure is 80%, and for intersex people 77%. Nine out of ten LGBTI people who had experienced hate crime had experienced it more than once, and a third of them, more than ten times. 71% did not report any of these crimes to the police.  Of those who did report hate crimes, many were not satisfied with the responses of the criminal justice system.

The Equality Network worked closely with Patrick Harvie on his hate crime member’s bill, which became the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009, but the organisation has been calling for some years for further review and updating of hate crime law.


For further information, please contact the Equality Network’s Director Tim Hopkins on 07747 108 967 or tim@equality-network.org  

Notes to editors:

1.    The Equality Network is a national charity working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland:

2.    Lord Bracadale’s report can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0053/00535892.pdf

3.    The Equality Network’s Scottish LGBTI hate crime report 2017 can be found here: https://www.equality-network.org/resources/publications/policy/scottish-lgbti-hate-crime-report/

Hate crime events in your area

The Equality Network is holding a series of Let’s Talk About Hate Crime special discussion events in ten rural and island communities in Scotland during March. We’ll be discussing what makes a hate crime, how you can report it and what support is available.

The events are FREE. Each will last around two hours and refreshments will be available.
Click here for the full details.


Oban, Argyle                                 Tues 8th Mar     6 pm

Stornoway, Western Isles          Fri 11th Mar        7 pm

Portree, Isle of Skye                    Sat 12th Mar       3 pm

Elgin, Moray                                 Mon 14th Mar    6 pm

Thurso, Caithness                        Wed 16th Mar    7 pm

Kirkwall, Orkney                          Thu 17th Mar     7 pm

Lerwick, Shetland                         Sat 19th Mar     2 pm

Arbroath, Angus                            Mon 21st Mar    7 pm

Ayr, South Ayrshire                      Wed 22nd Mar   7 pm

Dumfries, Dumfriesshire             Thu 23rd Mar    7 pm

For venue and further information:

Web: http://equalitynetwork.eventbrite.co.uk

Email: scott@equality-network.org

Tel: 0131 467 6039

All events are open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, their friends, family and supporters. Click here to read more about the Equality Network’s hate crime project.


2018 marks the 21st Birthday of the Equality Network, Scotland’s LGBTI equality and human rights charity. Over the course of the year we will be marking our 21 years of fighting for equality with events and information about our work.

We’ll be holding an event at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 27th February, hosted by Patrick Harvie MSP, to celebrate our 21st year but also to focus on one of our priorities, the Equal Recognition campaign for trans equality.

If you would like to join us, MSPs and over 300 guests from all over Scotland, please register here.

In the 21 days leading up to our birthday bash we’ll be highlighting some of the things we’ve been doing to make Scotland a better place for LGBTI people since 1997, on our social media channels. We hope you’ll find the posts interesting. We’ll be adding a new year every day.

The Equality Network 

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 LGBTI people in Scotland including those who face prejudice on other grounds as well. Our current work includes ensuring that the voices of diverse LGBTI 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.


It’s 1997 and Scotland is a very unequal place for LGBTI people. Decriminalisation of sex between men happened just 16 years before, in 1981, but the age of consent remains higher. There are no rights to marry or adopt, you can be fired from your job and people can refuse to serve you in a shop or café.

The UK Government introduce a new bill to set up the sex offenders register, but it discriminates against men convicted of sex with men. So a group of campaigners decide to set up a new organisation to fight to amend that law.

Its 1997, and the Equality Network was founded and we successfully amended the law.


On June 20th 1997 we held our first ‘Equality for All Conference’ at the City Chambers in Edinburgh with the support of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), The City of Edinburgh Council, Pride Scotland and Stonewall UK.

At the conference the different workshops discussed key topics including bisexual, transgender, youth, parenting, health and workplace issues. The conference also decided that going forward the Equality Network would be trans inclusive in all its work.

You can read an original report of the conference here.


In 1998 we successfully lobbied for amendments to the Scotland Act, to give the new Scottish Parliament powers to work for equal opportunities for LGBT people. We also worked with partners to ensure that equality was a key part of the core principles and working practices of the new Parliament.

On the 21st March 1998, together with UNISON we co-organised the first conference for police and the LGBT communities. The original report for this conference can be found here.

Throughout 1998 the age of consent campaign saw us working closely with UK-wide groups to ensure an equal age of consent for all. The age of consent was finally equalised across the United Kingdom in January 2001.


In April 1999, after our second ‘Equality for All Conference’, we published ‘Equality at Holyrood’, our detailed manifesto for LGBT equality under the Scottish Parliament.
The manifesto called for many things we take for granted today, remembering this was less than 20 years ago.
Amongst other things it called for civil marriage, gender recognition for trans people, adoption rights and what was to be our big focus over the following few years, the scrapping of Section 28. Take a look at the manifesto in full here.

In 1999 we forced the Bank of Scotland to cancel a proposed business deal with US far-right evangelist Pat Robertson. When the deal had been cancelled he told the media Scotland was “a dark country” overrun by homosexuals.


We started campaigning to repeal Section 28 in Scotland as soon as the Scottish Parliament was set up.
Over the course of 2000 the most homophobic campaign in Scottish history was unleashed. With the support of the mainstream media, Stagecoach owner Brian Souter spent £1million on a flawed postal vote and placed anti-gay adverts in billboards and newspapers across the country.
The ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign was ultimately unsuccessful and the Scottish Parliament voted by 99 to 17 in favour of repeal.
In 2000, as well as repealing Section 28, the Scottish Parliament recognised same-sex cohabiting couples in legislation for the first time. This was thanks to an amendment we promoted to the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act.
In 2001 an equal age of consent was finally achieved across the UK, laws which prevented two men from having sex with anyone else present were repealed, and the Scottish Executive published their first Equality Strategy, which included LGBT equality.

In 2002 we held a conference in Edinburgh to plan our campaign for civil partnerships. ‘We are Family’ took place in Edinburgh with the support of The City of Edinburgh CouncilScottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the Equal Opportunities Commission Scotland.

The campaign was ultimately successful in 2004 with the Scottish Parliament passing a ‘sewel’ motion allowing Westminster to legislate. The first Civil Partnerships took place on December 20th 2005. You can read the BBC news report of the day here.

Also in 2002 we secured grant funding for our first paid staff, until this point our work and campaigns was being carried out by volunteers.

The Scottish Executive funded ‘Your Scotland’ project enabled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to better participate in shaping law and policy.


In 2003 we published our second ‘Equality at Holyrood’ manifesto. Amongst other things we called on the Scottish Parliament to legislate on gender recognition for trans people, cohabitation and partnership rights for same-sex couples and adoption rights. A full copy of the manifesto can be read here.


We campaigned for a Gender Recognition Act which was passed at Westminster in 2004. We worked closely with the Scottish Executive on the Scottish aspects of the Act which was, at the time, a huge step forward for trans equality.

At the time the UK was one of only four countries in Europe which did not allow trans people to change legal documents to better reflect their gender.

At this time we also were deep into a 4 year campaign for civil partnerships, the Civil Partnership act was finally passed at Westminster, with the permission of the Scottish Parliament, in late 2004. We worked extensively on the Scots law aspects of the Act.


2005 was a big year for LGBTI families. After 6 years of campaigning we worked to achieve an equalisation in the law between same-sex and mixed-sex cohabiting couples.

The law was equalised by the The Family Law (Scotland) Act which was passed in early 2006.

We later produced ‘Shacked Up’ a guide for same-sex couples living together in Scotland.

With the passing of the Civil Partnerships Act same-sex couples had relationships legally recognised for the first time. Ceremonies took place from Dec 2005. 


2006 was another year of progress for LGBTI equality with the successful campaign for adoption rights for same-sex couples.

The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill was approved in the Scottish Parliament by 101 votes to 6, with 6 abstentions.

Then in our 10th year and with rapid progress toward legislative equality in some areas we held our 9th annual conference at the Arches in Glasgow. Brave New World was held in Glasgow on Saturday 20th May 2006    – You can see the original conference flyer here.


The Equality Network decided when it began in 1997 that it would be a trans inclusive organisation. In 2007 our work on trans issues received a significant boost when we won funding for the Scottish Trans Alliance.

It was the first time a trans rights project had been funded by any national government in Europe.

Today Scottish Trans Alliance have three staff. As well as providing detailed knowledge, training and guidance on trans issues we’re spearheading the campaign for Gender Recognition reform in Scotland.

Also in 2007 we published our third manifesto. It called for a new hate crime law and same-sex marriage, amongst other things. You can read the manifesto here.


In 2008 we secured funding for EveryoneIN. It became the first Scottish based project to focus on the inclusion of minority ethnic LGBT people.

Since then we’ve published groundbreaking research, delivered training and continued to engage minority ethnic communities in our work.

Also in 2008, we set up our Equal Marriage campaign. it was the first major campaign for same-sex marriage in the UK.


In 2009 after a campaign spanning a number of years Scotland passed a new hate crime law. It was the first legislation in Europe to explicitly cover transphobic as well as homophobic hate crime.


There are LGBTI people in every part of Scotland. That’s why we’ve always ensured we’re not just a ‘central-belt organisation’. Since our founding we’ve held our events across the country and worked with LGBTI people from Stranraer to Shetland.

In 2010 we held events across the highlands and islands to create new LGBT groups. Helping to reduce social isolation and build stronger LGBT networks in rural and island Scotland. Many of the groups are still going today – you can find a group in your area on our website.

In 2010 the Equality Act became law, it included new obligations to consult with LGBT communities. The Act brought together 116 individual pieces of discrimination legislation into one law. We consulted widely to get the Scottish parts of the law right and to ensure the widest possible definitions.


In 2011 we published the groundbreaking research report ‘Safety, Sanctuary and Solidarity’. It was the first Scottish based research into LGBT asylum and refugee issues. You can read the report here

We later followed up the research by publishing guidance for Scottish services working with LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees. You can read the guidance here.


In 2012 we undertook and published the first major research into homophobia and transphobia in Scottish Sport.

We launched the report at the home of Scottish Rugby Murrayfield.

Key findings included:

Only 5% thought enough was being done to tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport.

62% had experienced or witnessed homophobia or transphobia when taking part in sport.

57% of LGBT people said they were more likely to participate in sport were it more LGBT friendly. 

You can read more about our work on LGBTI inclusive sport here.


Media Coverage

This page features a small selection of media coverage and other videos of our current and past work. You can find more on our YouTube channel. We are currently campaigning for equal recognition for trans people. You can find out all about the campaign on our Equal Recornition website and watch Kate Adair’s Equal Recognition film.

You can also watch some older coverage and videos of our award-winning same-sex marriage campaign on our equal marriage YouTube channel.

An opinion piece by our Scottish Trans Alliance project Manager James Morton in The Guardian, 23 May 2018:
‘A woman on Wednesdays’? That’s just not how trans self-declaration works

An article in Holyrood.com, 30 April 2018:
The Gender Recognition Act, transphobia and Scotland

An article in the new Sunday Herald about the reform of the Gender Recognition Act by Oceana Maund, co-convenor of Trans Pride Scotland and one of our sessional workers based in our Scottish Trans Alliance project, 29 April 2018:
The big read: The truth about the trans panic

The Guardian’s article about our Equal Recognition campaign, 9 November 2017:
Legal recognition for non-binary people planned in Scotland

STV article about our Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report 2017, 12 October 2017:
Most LGBTI Scots ‘have been victims of hate crime’

BBC article about our Scottish sports charter, 5 August 2017:
Scottish football signs up for LGBT rights’

BBC article, 10 May 2017:
Effort to create a Gaelic glossary of LGBTI terms

STV article about our Hate crime project, 9 October 2016:
Tackling hate crime ‘an absolute priority’ says police chief

STV coverage of the equal marriage draft bill launch


Scotland Tonight debate on equal marriage


BBC coverage of our rally for equal marriage


Caribbean and Americas

OF 13 COMMONWEALTH MEMBER COUNTRIES IN THE Americas, only Belize, Canada and Guyana lie on the main continental landmass; all the others are islands or archipelagos. Every Commonwealth nation can be found around the middle of the American continent with the exception of Canada which is in the north. Canada also has thirty times more land mass than all the other Commonwealth nations in the region put together. All members have an equal say in the Commonwealth – regardless of size.

LGBTI people throughout the region have differing rights and responsibilities due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex, but many face the same challenges in overcoming draconian anti-LGBTI laws and seeking protections from discrimination. In Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean, Central and Southern Americas, LGBTI people face the harshest penalties in the whole region, but they are campaigning hard, forming civil society alliances, and perusing strategic litigation, to ensure new rights and freedoms.

Orin Jerrick (second from the left) is the founder of MESH, a new activist group for LGBT people in Antigua


LGBTI people in Antigua and Barbuda are not equal under the law and face harsh penalties for consensual same sex activity. The Sexual Offences Act 1995 prescribes the punishment for buggery from fifteen years (between adults) to five years (for minors). 

There are also laws around indecency, which affect both women and men and carry a maximum penalty of five years. MESH, an organisation working for LGBTI human rights (see below), indicate that these laws are not actively implemented.

It is not only in the law that LGBTI people face discrimination on the island nation. For the Antiguan Resilience Collective Inc. (ARC), an organisation working for an Antigua and Barbuda where people do not experience social exclusion or marginalisation based on nationality, HIV status, sexual orientation, gender or class and have equal access to sexual reproductive health and HIV services, the most important issues facing LGBTI people are social stigma and discrimination.

While there are daily violations of the human rights of LGBTI people in Antigua and Barbuda, ARC says things are changing: “Life for LGBTI people has changed in the sense that the issues are now being discussed via media and NGOs have been lobbying for better services as it relates to health care and other social services.”

In 2012 the government in Antigua and Barbuda was criticised by a prominent human rights lawyer, Sir Clare K. Roberts, KCN, QC, for voting against a historic UN resolution committing countries to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sir Clare said the government should have taken the lead in the local fight to reduce stigma and discrimination against sexual orientation discrimination by signing a recent United Nations statement on LGBT Rights.

This frustration is shared by ARC, who say that LGBTI people and organisations in Antigua and Barbuda are tired that government has signed conventions and treaties which support changes to anti-LGBTI laws, but does not follow through and make changes to the law, while LGBTI human rights are violated on a daily basis and there is no political will to make changes to the constitution.

Another organisation working for LGBTI human rights in Antigua and Barbuda is Meeting Emotional and Social Needs Holistically (MESH). MESH has received support for their work, and in 2011, the organisation was represented at a three-day Safety and Security Training Workshop for Human Rights defenders in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Both MESH and ARC recently took part in United, a two-day workshop organised by the US Embassy to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and the Caribbean HIV/AIIDS Alliance (CHAA). The event focused on improving media and communications skills for grassroots LGBT civil society groups.

“Members of the LGBTI community experience rejection and alienation by the society at large based on sexual orientation and or sexual identity. Our cultural norms dictate that homosexuality is a sin and our laws seek to invade the privacy of our homes by dictating with whom and the nature of sexual activity is allowable. Safe spaces for socialising are minimal and as such the LGBTI community is forced to meet in secluded places and to dress in keeping with traditional norms. These societal gender biases are indeed affecting the well-being of the LGBTI community and severely impacts on their mental status.

“Because of my profession I find life for me as a gay man in Antigua and Barbuda very unique from the rest of the population. I am able to go into areas where person would normally have challenges going. However, this does not say I do not faced with some degree stigma and discrimination. The discrimination I faced is from some of my colleagues. For example, my supervisor clearly identify my sexual orientation as an abominable sin and urged me to get into a relationship that is right in the sight of God and man or I will go to ‘Hell’.” Orin Jerrick

Miss Teen Bahamas 2005, Gari McDonald, was stripped of her title after coming out as a lesbian

 THE BAHAMAS pop. 371,960

The Bahamas decriminalised homosexuality in 1991 however it still maintains an unequal age of consent, 16 for mixed-sex acts and 18 for same-sex acts.

There is no legislation that provides protection from human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Constitutional Review Commission set up in 2006 “found that sexual orientation did not deserve protection against discrimination.”

In June 2011, despite not having a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, The Bahamas supported a resolution which affirmed equal rights for LGBTI people. “Our record is clear, we continue to support freedom of expression and the right for people to express their opinions”, said then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette.

There is a growing debate about LGBTI issues in the Bahamas. In June 2013 the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Michael Barnett told lawyers that “Bahamian courts will soon have to address the issue of samesex marriages” and in 2014 after a number of comments and speeches in support of the rights of LGBTI people, the current Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell said that he felt his career had suffered because of his support for LGBTI equality, “Do we as a society, for example, condone violence against people simply because of their sexual orientation”, he asked.

Bahamas LGBT Equality Advocates are a non-profit LGBT support and advocacy organisation based in Nassau. They stand against homophobia, agitate for the removal of laws that discriminate against LGBT people, and fight stigma and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and HIV status. Established in July 2011, they are members of the Bahamas Human Rights Network and Civil Society Bahamas, an umbrella group for non-governmental organisations.

“I am a victim of both crime and discrimination. I am a victim of stalking, for more than four years. I am unable to convince the Royal Bahamas Police Force [RBPF] that it is their duty to fully investigate these matters. I have reported both the crimes and the instances of discrimination to the RBPF, to the Commissioner of Police and directly and to the Prime Minister.

“We [members of the LGBTI community] have been unable to convince the Royal Bahamas Police Force that it is their duty to record this information… when processing a crime. The fact that our government does not have the capacity to record instances of crime, violence and discrimination against the LGBT community does not mean that members of the LGBT community have not attempted to have these instances recorded by official mechanisms.” Erin Greene

LGBT 101 session in Barbados, presented by the Rev. Tom Decker of Rochester, N.Y.

BARBADOS pop. 277,821

The country’s Sexual Offences Act (2002) includes the heaviest penalties for same-sex activity in the Western hemisphere. Section 9 of the Act imposes a sentence of up to life imprisonment for ‘buggery’. 

Section 12 includes a provision against “serious indecency” – which can be taken to apply to both male and female same-sex activity. Like many anti-LGBTI laws in the Commonwealth these laws were originally imposed during the period of British colonial rule and appear to be constitutionally entrenched and difficult to challenge. In February 2013, the Universal Periodic Review again recommended that Barbados repeal antigay laws; this was rejected by the Government, although they did accept recommendations to “implement measures to protect the LGBT population from harassment, discrimination and violence.”

It is important to note that Barbados is the only Commonwealth Caribbean country that recognises the binding jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In a landmark case by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2010, the Court ruled in that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was a violation of the American Convention on Human Rights. As Barbados recognises the jurisdiction of the IACHR, the retention of anti-LGBT laws, which can be argued to disproportionately affect LGBT people, means it is effectively in violation of its obligations under the American Convention.

In August 2013, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, at the opening of the Anglican Church Province of the West Indies Provincial Congress, said “whether homosexual behaviour derived from nature or from nurture, it does not lie within our competence to sit in seats of judgement and to condemn those who pursue that practice.”

Despite harsh laws, LGBTI people are active in pursuing rights. United Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB) are an organisation in Barbados formed for the gay and lesbian community to help support those who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, and to educate and build the self-esteem of LGBTI people in Barbados.

“As a Transgender woman living in Barbados, I always have this to say for myself: It’s interesting, being me. But it’s not always fun. Many of my friends and acquaintances don’t always understand what I mean by what I’m saying, until they observe or hear about what I go through from day to day.

“In recent weeks, I have faced situations where my photo was taken (under the assumption that I was unaware of it) and posted on the internet, with captions and descriptions intending to ‘expose’ me as a biological male. On some of these posts, threats are made by persons, expressing intentions to shoot, burn, or run me over with a vehicle if I were ever seen again (sure enough, if a moving vehicle is near me, some persons do urge the driver to attempt to hit me with the vehicle. Fortunately to date, no such incident has taken place).

“As an activist for LGBT equality, with special focus on that of the Trans community, many would say that I’m facing a losing battle here in Barbados. But it is my determination to be seen and treated just as any other ‘ordinary’ member of society which keeps me going.” Alex D V Hoffman

Campaigners against the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Belize

BELIZE pop. 324,060

Belize is the only Central American nation that outright prohibits male homosexual activity. The criminal code outlaws same-sex conduct with a punishment of 10 years imprisonment.

The country even denies entry into the country for “Any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or who may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behaviour”.

While there isn’t much reporting of incidents of discrimination and violence, LGBTI people continue to be affected by sexuality based discrimination in this self-identifi ed Christian country where many leaders are socially and politically aligned to the Church.

LGBTI people from the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) have started a legal challenge to the country’s colonial era anti-buggery laws on constitutional grounds. In May 2013, the Belizean judiciary started hearing a case where it will be asked to weigh up whether or not laws that penalise homosexuality in the country are constitutional. However the Belize Council of Churches and Evangelical Association of Churches, along with the Belizean Government, argue that the elimination of Section 53, which outlaws “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal”, would spur further laws advocating gay rights. No major political parties have supported the decriminalisation. The last hearing in the case was in May 2013 and a decision on the matter is expected later in 2014.

Also in 2013, the Belizean government launched a National Gender Policy to promote the empowerment of all people, particularly women and girls. However, religious denominations have begun campaigning that the language is “ambiguous and may be interpreted as giving rights to homosexuals” and organised an ‘Orange walk’ tour of the country to promote the message that persons who are LGBT should not enjoy the same rights as heterosexual men and women.

“I have lost two teeth, had my family property invaded and car damaged by two mask men… I have had stones thrown at me, experienced simulated gun shots, insults and physical harm on public transportation, threats that speak to, ‘Caleb You have no right to breathe!’” Caleb Orozco

Toronto hosted the World Pride celebrations in June 2014

CANADA pop. 35,158,300

LGBTI people in Canada enjoy some of the most progressive laws in the Americas and the world.

Because of this, Canada is currently one of the main countries that LGBTI people from around the world go to when seeking asylum because of the discrimination they face in their own countries.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Canada in 1969, when remaining British colonial antigay laws were repealed. Eight years later in 1977, Québec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to amend the province’s Charter of Human Rights to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination. Today, sexual orientation is explicitly mentioned as a ground of prohibited discrimination in the human rights acts of all jurisdictions in Canada. In July 2005, Canada became the fi rst Country in the Commonwealth, and fourth country in the world, to legalise same-sex marriages nationwide.

Internationally, Canada is one of the most prominent and credible voices advocating for the fair treatment of, and an end to stigma and discrimination faced by, LGBTI people across the world. Foreign Minister John Baird has consistently denounced the callous treatment of LGBTI people and has contended that “The rights of gays and lesbians are tremendously important. It is completely unacceptable that homosexuality continues to be criminalised in a majority of Commonwealth countries.”

Trans people and allies are currently campaigning for Bill C-279, which has seen a number of setbacks in four attempts and eight years of trying to pass the law. The bill would explicitly add gender identity and expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Additional provisions were added in 2009 to include gender identity and expression in the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code. The bill has currently stalled in the Canadian senate; civil society organisations across Canada are lobbying hard for its successful passing.

One of the organisations fighting for Bill C-279 is Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (ECHRT). They are Canada’s only national charity promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) human rights through research, education and community engagement. Egale’s vision is of a Canada free of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and all other forms of discrimination so that every person can achieve their full potential, unencumbered by hatred and bias.

The Lambda Literary and Scholarship Foundation is a Canadian non-profit organisation with charitable status that is devoted to education about the human rights of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people in all their diversities. Their awards are open to all eligible recipients regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, racial or ethnic background, etc. So far, they have annual awards at nine universities across Canada from New Brunswick to British Columbia.

In June 2014 Toronto held the first World Pride event in North America. Over 2 million people took part in 10 days of events which included a Human Rights Conference, the first World Pride Trans Rights March, as well as a huge parade.

Campaigners welcome the appointment of an openly gay US ambassador to the nation

DOMINICA pop. 71,684 

Dominica made world-wide headlines in May 2012 when two passengers were arrested aboard an international cruise liner for having gay sex on the balcony of a ship docked in a Dominican port.

The pair, from the United States, were charged under ‘buggery’ laws. The law in Dominica criminalises all forms of same sex conduct under the Sexual Offences Act 1998. The Act imposes criminal sanctions for ‘gross indecency’ with sentences up to five years and for ‘buggery’ with sentences ranging from five to twenty-five years.

CHAP Dominica, an HIV organisation, has found that negative statements by key opinion leaders such as politicians have contributed to reinforcing negative attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. There are several allegations of harassment, bullying, home invasions and other types of abuse perpetrated against LGBTI people in Dominica. There are no laws to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.

In May 2013, Bishop Michael Daniel, President of the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches called upon Dominica’s political leaders “to take a unifi ed stand and oppose the LGBTI agenda to legislate their sinful behavior.” The Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit had previously said the laws criminalising same-sex intimacy will not be repealed because no “compelling” argument has been posited in that regard.

Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom), an LGBT rights advocacy group, has been lobbying the government to protect and promote the rights of LGBT people. MiRiDom has launched a campaign to decriminalise same-sex intimacy. Their campaign has been bolstered by a number of high-profile political figures coming out in support of decriminalisation. In 2011, Sir Brian Alleyne, Former Attorney General and former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, calling for changes to the law said “What a person does in the privacy of his home with another person is his business.” In July 2013, Willie Fevrier, outgoing head of the Dominica Planned Parenthood Association (DPPA) said that discrimination against LGBT people is “a major concern” and that people should be more tolerant.

“Being a lesbian in Dominica embodies one word – Invisible. To the average eye being a lesbian in the Commonwealth of Dominica is just as easy as being a straight man. No real pressure from society. This is false.

“As a lesbian in one of the most rapidly growing homophobic countries in the Caribbean, I have learnt that I have no real rights as a member of the LGBTQI community, and barely that of a straight woman. I have been the victim of sexual harassment, discrimination and often the butt of a threatened man’s joke; with no law enforced for my protection. My sexuality and preference are not accepted in Dominica, but instead simply tolerated.” Anonymous

GrenCHAP staff and supporters at the opening of their new centre in St George, Grenada

GRENADA pop. 105,483

Grenada has a relatively vibrant LGBTI community despite the discrimination faced in Grenadian society. This is evidenced by a number of civil society groups that advocate on behalf of the community.

GrenCHAP is the Grenada chapter of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership (CHAP), a network of groups in small Caribbean countries working to promote human rights and health, with a focus on marginalised populations such as LGBT, sex workers, and persons living with and affected by HIV. Their objectives are to promote the health of key populations through education for prevention and the building of skills; to build support networks of key populations; to engage in public education to sensitise and humanise issues; and to advocate for policy and legal reform and to promote equality and universal access to health.

Male same-sex conduct is not legal in Grenada according to the Criminal Code, which views anal sex as an ‘unnatural act’ punishable with of up to ten years in prison. Female same-sex conduct is not specifi cally mentioned in the law. Even though the anti-gay laws are rarely enforced, there have been incidents such as the May 2011 arrest of two adult men for engaging in consensual sexual activity.

“Marginalized populations start off at a stage of questioning and paranoia. Then there’s this long journey where you go along until you eventually are comfortable with yourself and you can function as a ‘normal’ person. And I think if we can speed up that process (in Grenada) as much as possible so that people can start living their lives and be comfortable sooner than later, then that would have a big impact on peoples’ lives. Ultimately, we want people to have a better life.” Nigel Mathlin

LGBTI Campaigners in Guyana calling for decriminalisation

GUYANA pop. 795,369

Guyana is the only country on the mainland South American continent where male same-sex conduct is illegal. The Criminal Law (Offences) Act of Guyana prescribes punishment of imprisonment of 10 years or more.

Female same-sex conduct is not explicitly criminalised. In Guyana, LGBTI people are at risk of discrimination and violence. In April 2012, the government established a select committee to facilitate a national consultation around repealing the law. The Guyana Equality Forum, a collective of justice related organisations, has prepared a submission to the parliamentary committee in this regard. In 2000, a constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was unanimously approved by the National Assembly of Guyana. However, some religious communities fiercely opposed the provision and successfully convinced then President Bharrat Jagdeo not to give his assent to the bill.

In 2012 three human rights organisations: Guyana RainBow Foundation (GuyBow), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), came together to publish an LBT-specific shadow report for submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The report ‘Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBT) People in Guyana’ said that despite the right to protection from discriminatory laws, stereotypes, and cultural attitudes for all women, “the Government of Guyana has taken no steps to repeal laws that impact LBT persons or to modify cultural attitudes that lead to climates of fear, harassment, and discrimination. Many LBT people experience discrimination by the police and law enforcement officials. Discriminatory laws against cross-dressing have led to detentions and fines for transgender women. Because of cultural attitudes against LBT people, there have been documented incidences of police intimidation, detention, and the failure to investigate homophobic assaults.”

SASOD has been active in campaigning for a better Guyana for LGBTI people and in February 2010 fi led a lawsuit contesting Guyanese laws against ‘cross dressing’. In September 2013, Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that men can crossdress as long as it is not for an “improper purpose”. Kemraj Persaud, program coordinator of SASOD, provided advice concerning poverty of LGBT people during the annual gathering of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which took place in Washington in October 2013. The World Bank took evidence on what it could do to alleviate poverty among millions of LGBT people around the world.

In January 2014, on the first anniversary of the murder of 19-year old Wesley “Tiffany” Holder, LGBTI people came together to organise a ‘March for Justice’ against the slow police investigations of killings of LGBTI people in the country.

“I have reached a point in my life where I could care less of what people think. Today, I am living my best life ever and I owe it to myself as well as society out there to come clean as it were.” Leon Suseran

Jamaica’s Chief medical offi cer Dr. Kevin Harvey with graduate of JFlag’s public health workers training

 JAMAICA pop. 2,889,287

Male same-sex conduct is illegal in Jamaica and punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. Female same-sex conduct is not criminalised.

Sexuality-based discrimination continues to be commonplace and impacts on LGBTI people in a number of ways, including their right to work, education, health, life, and equality before the law, among others. The law does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity and many LGBTI Jamaicans have been forced to seek asylum abroad as a consequence of the discrimination and violence they face.

In April 2011, the Jamaican government passed the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom but ignored calls to include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for non-discrimination. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller stated during her 2011 general election campaign that LGBTI people should not be discriminated against and that she intended to facilitate a conscience vote in parliament on the matter, however in recent comments she stated that decriminalisation of LGBTI people ‘was not a priority’ for her government.

J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays, is an LGBT rights organisation in Jamaica, founded in 1998, and works for the human rights of LGBT people in Jamaica and the world. To raise awareness within, and increase visibility of, the LGBT community, J-FLAG has developed some social media campaigns that provide LGBT persons and allies with opportunities to share their personal stories with the public. It is part of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CariFLAGS).

According to J-FLAG, “Jamaica is a very classist society, and this is manifested in the way we treat members of the LGBT population. Stigma, discrimination, violence, and crime affect all minority and vulnerable populations disproportionately when compared with the general population. LGBT people experience several layers of homophobia or homonegative attitudes. We experience this in homes, schools, churches, at healthcare facilities, at the workplace, in policy, in law, and in our communities. Crime and violence in particular primarily affect young poor males more than the rest of the LGBT population. This is not unique to the community, as it represents the trend in national crime statistics.”

In January 2013, J-FLAG noted that despite the continued discrimination and violence perpetrated against LGBTI people, there was some progress in Jamaica. A 2012 survey commissioned by J-FLAG found that one in five Jamaicans respect LGBTI people and one in five would support a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that includes sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination. Also, one-third of the population believes the government is not doing enough to protect LGBTI people from violence and discrimination. Among these were what it described as an “unprecedented” move by the University of Technology to address anti-gay attitudes and violence (in response to the savage beating of a male student allegedly found in a compromising position with another male in November 2012); improved relations with the Jamaica Constabulary Force; and calls by the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson for the buggery law to be amended.

Sadly, anti-LGBTI violence in the country remains high. In July 2013, 16 year-old Dwayne Jones who attended a party as female was murdered by a mob in St James after being identified by another patron as trans. After the murder of a gay activist in Montego Bay, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson called for more tolerance for homosexuals in Jamaica.

Supplementary to J-FLAG, in January 2013 Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ) was formed. QCJ came out of the need for an organisation specifically working on issues surrounding lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women. Quality of Citizenship Jamaica is primarily a research and education organisation.

“I am free and happy now, accepted by my family (including my dad who is a Minister of Religion) and friends but it was not always the case. In my earlier years I was verbally assaulted because I was perceived to be a lesbian. I was asked by the then Warden for Taylor Hall, UWI [University of West Indies], to vacate the hall mid- semester because it was reported to him that I was engaging in illegal activities, that is, sexually engaging a woman. I resisted the move but was not awarded a space on Hall for the following academic year.

“Thankfully, I no longer suffer this degree of victimisation but everyday I live with the fear of being harmed on the basis of my sexual orientation. I spend my days advocating for a more rights-based approach to development, one in which Jamaica respects the right of all persons. I am a proud Jamaican lesbian and I applaud the incremental progress being made in Jamaica as I believe it has directly impacted my survival as a lesbian.” Latoya Nugent

United and Strong members say its #timetoact on sexual violence

ST LUCIA pop. 180,870

The United and Strong (U&S) LGBTI rights organisation was founded in 2001. It has been active at a national and international level, campaigning for human rights, raising consciousness and lobbying the government for law changes.

Their mission is “to provide an enabling environment for the advancement of human rights for the LGBTI community in Saint Lucia.”

In May 2012, United & Strong organised a demonstration at the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister of Education around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). It was the first of its kind undertaken by U&S members and human rights supporters, and highlighted to St. Lucia that the LGBTI community will not remain unseen, nor unheard. U&S have also, in partnership with AIDS Free World and CariFLAGS, produced human rights violation documentation training for human rights defenders in the Eastern Caribbean. In August 2013, United & Strong partnered with AIDS Free World, to host an LGBTI sensitivity training for police officers.

The work of U&S remains so required in St Lucia because of the country’s laws which criminalise LGBTI people. According to the Criminal Code, consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under indecency statues, and some same-sex sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years, and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. LGBTI people in St Lucia enjoy varying levels of tolerance; discrimination remains commonplace.

Christian evangelical groups continue to lead anti-gay movements to block efforts by human rights defenders to advance the rights of LGBTI people in St Lucia. In July 2013, the Caribbean Centre for Family and Human Rights (CARIFAM) published a letter in The Voice, the national newspaper of St Lucia, outlining ten reasons why the government should not decriminalise buggery.

Working against this message is the AIDS Action Foundation (AAD), which works with minority groups such as men who have sex with men to advocate for their basic right to “live and love as they want” without fear of legal or social retribution or incarceration since homosexuality is a criminal offence in the country.

“Coming out as a lesbian in Saint Lucia was definitely an overwhelming experience as I did not know what to expect from my family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers and even the everyday man on the street who just randomly says hi as I would walk around the busy streets of Castries. For me it was definitely an emotional roller coaster especially having to break the news to my grandparents who raised me in a Christian home where a lesbian lifestyle was not part of the norms, tradition and culture in Saint Lucia society. However, I managed to break the silence to my friends and family. While some were accepting others were not as supportive. Surprisingly my mom accepted me and like she told me “once you’re happy, I am happy” and I have always kept this with me as my strength.” Jessica St Rose

ST KITTS AND NEVIS pop. 53,584

LGBTI people in St. Kitts & Nevis continue to experience discrimination and acts of violence based on their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity. There are no laws that prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation and the act of buggery remains illegal.

This carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison. Over the last 5 years there have been a few charges of buggery against men. Female same-sex activity is not explicitly criminalised.

In August 2013, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, who has lead responsibility for health within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) cabinet, gave his support to a debate in parliament regarding the buggery law. He argued that, “As a country, we have been called upon to look at some of the existing laws that we have on our law books. The buggery law for example, we believe that the time has come for debate to take place in our country with regard to whether these laws, which continue to perpetuate discrimination and stigmatisation against certain people.”

Societal attitudes against LGBTI people impede the operation and free association of LGBTI organisations and the openness of LGBTI people in the country.

“In a word life as a gay man in St.Kitts is complicated. You need to have real strength of character in order to live a happy life here. There are no ‘meeting spots’ such as clubs or bars where you can meet like-minded men. So it’s a constant guessing game if you see someone you’re attracted to. And while the homophobia here isn’t as blatant as other islands, it still exists.

“It’s really hard to summarize so much hate and ignorance in such a small space. The life of a gay Kittitian (male) is one that needs the mental strength of a thousand Vietnam soldiers. Being ambushed verbally and sometimes physically by “Christ following” men and women who are under the impression that somewhere along the line of choosing what shirt we’d wear to work today, we also chose to be aroused by the simple features of a male. Plain and simple, the life of a gay man let alone a young man, who is already struggling to find his identity in the world, is a tough road to walk, but it’s a road we have to take.” Junior


Same-sex relationships, either between men or women, are considered illegal. Although rarely enforced, indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in imprisonment.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines rejected the recommendation of the 2008 UN Human Rights Committee to repeal section 146 of the Criminal Code that criminalises sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

Although no statistics are available, anecdotal evidence suggests there is social discrimination against LGBTI people in the deeply conservative society. An example occurred recently when the President of the Scouts Association of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Morrison Baisden, said gay and lesbian scout leaders will not be tolerated in the organisation.

Baisden, speaking to reporters on plans by the local scouting association to celebrate its 100th anniversary later this year, said, like the World Scout Movement, the local body has been affected by “the spectre of homosexuality”.

Unlike many other islands in the region, St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not have an LGBTI organisation that can act as a reference point where advocacy and/or social services are concerned. This is done indirectly and through HIV organisations, such as the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance, which attempt to bridge the gap between HIV prevention and social support services for at risk groups such as MSMs and sex workers.

“As a gay young Caribbean citizen, I have experienced both sides of the coin. I have been bullied especially in high school because of my perceived sexuality as well as been subject to physical attacks. I was beaten in fights and was even once stoned.

“There is also the acceptance which I have received in parts of my society. I have found that the more educated you become and the more you climb the social ladder especially in a small society as St. Vincent and the Grenadines that you become more accepted. After returning from my studies at university, more persons look at you now as an upstanding citizen with something to contribute rather than a deviant. There is still a struggle for total acceptance of my lifestyle and the understanding that LGBT rights are human rights rather than a fi ght for choice especially in a close-minded society as mine.” Anonymous

Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) members campaigning during IDAHOT

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO pop. 1,225,225

Neither male nor female same-sex relationships are legal in the country and are punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment. However the laws criminalising LGBTI people are rarely enforced except when paired with more serious offences such as rape. Trinidad and Tobago’s immigration laws also bar the entry of homosexual people into the country; again the legislation is not enforced.

In 2011, the Data Protection Act became the first pro-LGBTI legislation in the country. The Act sought to “ensure that protection is afforded to an individual’s right to privacy and the right to maintain sensitive personal information as private and personal”. The legislation is significant as the law provides heightened protections for “sensitive personal information”, which is defined to include one’s “sexual orientation or sexual life”.

In August 2012, Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar sent a letter to the Kaleidoscope Trust, in which said she wanted to “put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation” in the country. Mrs Persad- Bissessar said the stigmatisation of LGBTI people had to be “addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.”

The LGBTI community is centred in the capital city of Port-of-Spain. The main advocacy groups opposing anti-LGBTI prejudice are the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) and the Trinidad & Tobago FreePride Foundation Project (FreePride). CAISO was founded in 2009 as a public forum in order to raise awareness among lay people and elected officials about the needs of LGBT people and the issues they face. In 2013 a survey commissioned by CAISO revealed that a little over half of the population is tolerant towards LGBT people.

Another vital group is the Women’s Caucus. It is not a political organisation; rather, it provides gay women with a forum to chat and express themselves beyond the party scene. It was formed to unify these women throughout Trinidad, and aims to help women of the LGBT community to know that they are not alone in their struggles. The Women’s Caucus also hosts social gatherings, using proceeds to aid the needy within the community.

Maurice Tomlinson, a gay rights activist and lawyer from Jamaica who is active across the Caribbean, is contesting the section of anti-gay laws which prohibit homosexuals from entering Trinidad and Tobago. On 8th May 2014 the Caribbean Court of Justice granted special leave, saying that it was arguable that the mere existence of laws such as these could constitute a violation of a person’s rights under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (which established the Caribbean Community). The governments of Trinidad and Tobago, and Belize, the only two countries in the Western hemisphere which continue to prohibit the entry of gay people, had argued that the laws were not enforced in practice. The case will now proceed to a full hearing.

In June 2014, LGBT youth leaders from across the Caribbean united in Trinidad to push for lingering anti-gay laws to be repealed. At a ‘Generation Change’ event, representatives from Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago came together to discuss the problems they face on a day-to-day basis as a result of homophobic laws, which are often colonial-era remnants.

“It was 1997, she was Ellen, I was eleven, and I realized I was not alone. I had never heard the word lesbian until then and instantly I knew what it meant. I was young but I wasn’t stupid and I knew I was ‘different’, I liked girls the way I perceived that my mom liked boys. It would take seven years for me to tell my mother, and when I did, I came out as bi. I did this as a way to ease her into the idea, while trying to convince myself that there was still a little ‘normal’ in me. Fact is I was as normal as anyone could be, and I was bi.” Candace Moses

The referendum result and LGBTI equality

Referendum FlagsAfter a long debate, the people of Scotland have decided by 55% to 45% that Scotland should remain part of the UK.

Huge numbers of people across the country have taken active part in this debate, in what has been described as the greatest democratic experience in the history of Scotland. The turnout of 85% is a record – the highest turnout ever in a national vote in Scotland. The vote also made history by being the first to include people aged 16 and 17.

The Equality Network has been strictly neutral throughout the independence debate. That’s because we know that there is a very wide range of strongly-held views on independence amongst LGBTI people in Scotland. Many will be happy with this result; many will be deeply disappointed that their hopes have been dashed.

It was always right that this should be decided by a vote of all the people of Scotland, and of course the vote has very wide implications. It is the Equality Network’s job though to work, in whatever the circumstances, for greater equality for all LGBTI people in Scotland. We hope that all LGBTI people, independence supporters or not, are together on that. Taking that rather narrowly focussed perspective on the result then, what now for LGBTI equality in Scotland?

Devolution now

Major areas of law and public services that affect LGBTI people have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, since 1999. Those include most of marriage, civil partnership and gender recognition law, adoption, hate crime, and sexual offences law, as well as health, education, local government, and police and justice services. In those areas, the Scottish Parliament has made good progress on LGBTI equality, sometimes a little ahead of England and Wales, sometimes a little behind.

What devolution certainly enables is Scotland doing those things differently, and in our view a little better, and more appropriately for Scotland. For example, our equal marriage law took a little longer to finalise, but it does not have the spousal veto and is better in some other ways too. Devolution is about Scotland deciding, democratically, what works best for Scottish circumstances.

But not all areas of law are currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament; instead, some are “reserved” to Westminster. Scotland has no power to legislate to ban discrimination, or to amend the Equality Act 2010. We are stuck with the deficiencies of equality law passed at Westminster, including for example that it only protects some trans people from discrimination (those who fit the “gender reassignment” definition). Good practice around the world is to protect people from all gender identity discrimination, and we would like to see intersex status protected too.

Equality law in Scotland, set by the UK Parliament, can be contrasted with hate crime law, set by the Scottish Parliament, which represents global best practice by explicitly protecting all trans and intersex people.

More devolution?

In the run up to the independence referendum, the union-supporting parties – the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems – promised that if Scotland voted no to independence, there would be a major package of new devolved powers for the Scottish Parliament. That promise was one of the factors that people will have taken into account when they voted in the referendum.

There is a view in Scotland that the majority of people here, whether they support independence or not, would certainly prefer “devo-max” to the existing devolution arrangements. Devo-max means maximum devolution of powers in Scotland, to Scotland, with only such areas as foreign affairs and defence decided at UK level.

The three union-supporting parties promised before the referendum an agreed and rapid timetable for introducing further devolution in the event of a no vote. But they have not yet agreed what will be devolved.

Our view is that, having made those promises, the UK Government should deliver substantial further devolution for Scotland, through an open and inclusive process of consultation with Scottish people, groups and political parties.

How could greater devolution benefit LGBTI people? Unsurprisingly, devolution of equality law is top of our list. We campaigned for that, unsuccessfully, when the Scottish Parliament was developed in 1998, and, then as now, we did that alongside Scottish equality groups working in other areas of equality.

There is no reason why equality law should not be devolved to Scotland within the UK – it is fully devolved in Northern Ireland for example (Northern Ireland’s political record of not using its devolved powers for LGBTI equality is a separate issue, that does not apply in Scotland). We see the promise of further devolution as creating an opportunity to make the same kind of progress in Scotland on equality law as we have made on hate crime law, equal marriage and other areas.

So pressing for that will be high on our agenda. It is not the only area though where the devolution arrangements are important for LGBTI equality. To mention just one other: the Scottish Parliament will need to decide on the future of civil partnership in Scotland, since that is already a devolved matter.

But if the Scottish Parliament votes to open civil partnership to mixed-sex couples – something that Scotland’s equal marriage campaign has always called for – then will the UK Government respect that decision, by recognising Scottish mixed-sex civil partnerships for purposes that are not devolved, such as pension regulation? Or will the UK impose the current England and Wales model of civil partnership on Scotland, in those reserved areas of law, regardless of Scotland’s democratic choice about who can register a civil partnership here?

These kind of questions will be an important part of our work, and that of many other groups, in the months ahead.


We all want a Scotland free from prejudice and discrimination, and we recognise the significant role and influence sport has in achieving that aim. We also want a healthy Scotland where, again, sport plays a vital role, and the barriers to the full and active participation in sport should therefore be examined and removed.

Overall, the recommendations in this report seek to achieve three key objectives:

  • Leadership to ensure the elimination of homophobia and transphobia in Scottish sport.
  • Practical action to lift barriers to inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and to encourage greater LGBT participation in sport at all levels.
  • A better understanding of the issues relating to homophobia and transphobia in Scottish sport and what should be done to tackle the problem.

These recommendations are designed to be carried forward by a range of stakeholders and action on these recommendations should reflect a level of proportionality and capability for the different stakeholders involved.


1. Visible Leadership

The Scottish Government and the sports sector, which includes Scottish Governing Bodies (SGBs), Local Authorities, Clubs, Local Sports Councils, Leisure Trusts and Sport facility providers, should demonstrate visible leadership on the issue of homophobia and transphobia in Scottish sport, in order to tackle prejudice and encourage greater inclusion and participation of LGBT people.

  • A Scottish LGBT Sports Charter should be created to facilitate the full inclusion of LGBT people in Scottish sport.
  • SGBs of sport should visibly display support for LGBT participation in their sport (e.g. on official websites, social media, annual reports and through other publications).
  • There should be visible support from the sports sector and the Government for initiatives that tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport.


2. National Coordinating Group

There should be a coordinating group established to bring together the stakeholders working for better inclusion of LGBT people and to combat homophobia and transphobia in sport, and to act as an information distribution point. Membership should include the
key stakeholders in this work, for example LGBT sector organisations, local authorities, SGBs, sportscotland and others. The aims of the coordinating group would be:

  • To develop an Action Plan taking into account the recommendations of the Out for Sport research.
  • To discuss strategies and monitor progress.
  • To facilitate a partnership approach and share information.
  • A means to facilitate discussion with the Government.
  • A vehicle to provide practical and policy guidance.


3. Action Plan

The coordinating group should develop an Action Plan to tackle prejudice, and increase LGBT inclusion and participation in sport, including:

  • A clear strategy with deliverable and measurable outcomes to tackle prejudice, and encourage inclusion and participation.
  • Actions would be informed by the Out for Sport recommendations. They would be prioritised against deadlines, with allocated responsibilities.
  • This action plan should be monitored and evaluated periodically.


4. Policies

Scottish Governing Bodies of sport, and those delivering sport, should have clear, embedded and proportionate equality policies which make a positive difference for LGBT participants at all levels.

  • Scottish local authorities, universities and other public sector sports bodies should be supported to comply with the general and specific duties of the Equality Act 2010. This includes pro-actively considering equality when carrying out their work, and paying due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations across the range of protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Leisure trusts, SGBs and clubs that are in receipt of public money should be supported by sportscotland and/or local authorities, where appropriate, to work to the principles of the Equality Act 2010 in terms of all protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Scottish public authorities should make sure that they collect data from, and consult with, all sectors of the LGBT community as effectively as possible, to meet their obligations under the Equality Act 2010 as well as providing better, more LGBT accessible services.
  • Scottish public authorities should be encouraged to set new equality outcomes based upon these Out for Sport recommendations.
  • SGBs should be encouraged to work with sportscotland towards the achievement of the Equality Standard for Sport at a level which is proportionate to the size and investment of the governing body.
  • sportscotland should make sure that all SGBs know that they are able to take specific and targeted action to address homophobia and transphobia.


5. Education

Diversity training should be rolled out to ensure a greater understanding of the needs and issues of LGBT people, and to develop a more inclusive approach.

  • LGBT organisations should build long-term, sustainable relationships with sportscotland and Sports Coach UK to develop coaching, training provision and CPD.
  • Mainstreamed equality training which includes awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity issues should be developed for basic level coach education for level 1 and/or 2 coaches as part of their UKCC qualification.
  • Training should be developed for teachers and staff working in schools, clubs and elsewhere, on sexual orientation and gender identity issues including the identification, prevention and challenging of homophobic and transphobic bullying.
  • Local authorities and leisure trusts should make sure leisure centre staff have basic equality training so they can fulfil their requirements under the Equality Act 2010.


6. Changing Attitudes

There should be a public awareness campaign to tackle homophobic and transphobic prejudice, and encourage greater inclusion and participation of LGBT people in Scottish sport.

  • The Scottish Government should take steps to educate the public, SGBs, local authorities and clubs that the Hate Crime and Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation also covers homophobia and transphobia as well as racism and sectarianism.
  • The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act should be implemented robustly to challenge and eradicate homophobia and transphobia.
  • The law on threatening communications should be reviewed to ensure that homophobic and transphobic abuse on the internet can be dealt with appropriately.


7. Tackling abuse

Homophobic and transphobic behaviour in Scottish sport should be actively and effectively challenged.

  • SGBs and clubs should visibly challenge homophobic and transphobic behaviour by participants and spectators.
  • Coaches, PE teachers, sports club welfare officers, SGB community development officers, and other key role models and influencers should exercise zero tolerance of homophobic and transphobic abuse.
  • Homophobic and transphobic abuse in all sports should be dealt with by the Police and prosecutors robustly where appropriate, as a prejudice aggravated breach of the peace or threatening behaviour.
  • The Scottish Government should take steps to educate the public, SGBs, local authorities and clubs that the Hate Crime and Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation also covers homophobia and transphobia as well as racism and sectarianism.
  • The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act should be implemented robustly to challenge and eradicate homophobia and transphobia.
  • The law on threatening communications should be reviewed to ensure that homophobic and transphobic abuse on the internet can be dealt with appropriately.


8. Supporting LGBT Participation

Sports bodies should provide support to encourage LGBT participation in sport.

  • The LGBT sector should offer ongoing assistance to SGBs as they develop actions around LGBT participation and homo/bi/transphobia. This could include working with the SFA on the Football Supporters Charter to tackle issues around spectator behaviour and make football a more welcoming place for everyone.
  • There should be an early and sustained focus from the Government on the issues faced by LGBT young people participating in sport and physical activity, to help reduce the teenage drop off in sports participation by LGBT people. This could include looking at homophobic bullying in sports contexts, the equality agenda in PE teacher training and the the range of sports offered in schools.
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the LGBT sector should encourage and assist local authorities, arm’s length leisure providers, SGBs, and tertiary education sports facility providers, to gather diversity data in line with best practice on LGBT participation. Too often, diversity monitoring only covers some protected characteristics such as gender but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Exceptional work to increase LGBT sports participation and tackle homophobia and transphobia in sport should be showcased, by local authorities and SGBs, recognised and encouraged.
  • Local Authorities, which deliver 90% of Scotland’s sports spend, should be encouraged to share and showcase good practice.
  • The Scottish Government, sportscotland, SGBs and local authority partners should work with equality organisations, including LGBT organisations, to make sure sports clubs and community sports hubs are LGBT friendly.
  • Local authorities, local Sports Councils (where appropriate) and SGBs should be encouraged, through consultation and relationships with LGBT sports groups, to identify and remove any barriers to the full and active participation of such groups in club accreditation schemes and in local club sport generally.
  • Sports facility providers should be encouraged to publish or display information about the changing facilities within particular leisure facilities on their websites. This would include whether they have private cubicles or gender specific changing areas. Particular types of changing arrangements can be a barrier to transgender participation as well as to ethnic groups and others.
  • The Commonwealth Games should champion the positive nature and fellowship of sport and should re-iterate that sport is for everyone, regardless of their background. The Organising Committee should ensure that equality issues including the treatment of LGBT participants and spectators are captured within relevant codes of conduct.
  • Policies around the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) including children should be inclusive of the needs of LGBT young people, protecting them from discrimination as well as from abuse but allowing them to play sport in safe environments where they feel comfortable.
  • LGBT people should be risk assessed and dealt with within PVG systems on the same basis as anyone else, that is, on evidence and not on the basis of prejudice and stereotypes.


9. Capacity Building

LGBT sports clubs should be developed and supported to deliver access to sport and sports programmes across Scotland.

  • SGBs should build links with, and provide support for, LGBT friendly teams/clubs and groups within their sport.
  • LGBT national organisations working in partnership with Scottish Student Sport could assist in developing projects and better links between university and college sports clubs /facilities and LGBT societies.
  • LGBT organisations should assist in the establishment and development of new LGBT and LGBT-friendly sports clubs in order to increase the participation of LGBT people within sport, outdoor activity and physical activity across Scotland.
  • LGBT organisations should develop training and networking opportunities for new and established LGBT sports clubs.


10. Employment

SGBs should work with LGBT sector organisations to improve LGBT-friendly employment practices. This work should be supported by sportscotland and could be carried out in a proportional way aligned to the work that SGBs do through the Equality Standard for Sport.

  • SGBs and other stakeholders should work to widen the diversity of SGB Board members.
  • SGBs with significant numbers of staff should be encouraged to set up workplace LGBT networks.
  • SGBs should work with LGBT sector organisations to ensure LGBT-friendly employment practices.

Whilst improving employment practices for staff will not solve the issue of homophobia and transphobia in sport on its own, we believe strongly that diverse workplaces better reflect the needs of LGBT people, and such efforts would benefit the wider agenda of LGBT inclusion.

Update about the EU referendum

EU and Scottish flags

On Thursday 23rd June 2016, people in Scotland voted, by a majority of 62% to 38%, to remain part of the European Union. Every one of the 32 council areas in Scotland voted to stay in the EU. However, the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon has since said that the Scottish Government will do all it can to protect Scotland’s place within the EU, including the possibility of a second independence referendum for Scotland.

For a long time now, there will be uncertainty about the UK’s international relationships and future, and about the future of Scotland within the UK.

Two of the immediate concerns for LGBTI people are these:

Firstly, the Equality Network works for equality and human rights for all LGBTI people in Scotland – people of all nationalities and ethnicities. Our staff, volunteers and members include citizens of different EU and non-EU countries, and we would be much the poorer without that diversity. We will continue to strongly support Scotland’s openness and welcome for diverse people.

We are very concerned about the reports of an increase in racist abuse and attacks since Friday, apparently motivated by the referendum result. The reports we have seen so far have been from England, but this may be happening in Scotland also. We urge anyone who experiences or witnesses any kind of hate incident to report it to Police Scotland, by phoning 101 (or 999 if someone is in danger), or online here:

We very much value our partnerships with LGBTI people and organisations in the rest of Europe, including Europe-wide organisations like ILGA-Europe and TGEU, and we will continue to work to strengthen those partnerships.

Secondly, concern has been expressed (for example in Saturday’s Daily Record) about the future of our equality and human rights legal protections. Britain’s gender reassignment and sexual orientation equality laws were originally introduced as requirements of EU law. But they are part of British law – the Equality Act 2010 – and are now stronger than the EU requires. Most of the Equality Act is not devolved to Scotland.

In our view, the Equality Act needs to be strengthened and improved, but there is a danger that the UK Government might weaken it. For the past 18 years, the Equality Network has called for equality law to be fully devolved to Scotland, because we think we would then have better and more appropriate law. We will continue to call for that, and to call for improvements to the Equality Act to fully cover gender identity, sex characteristics, and intersectional discrimination, and we will of course oppose any weakening of the law.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is not a treaty of the EU. It is a treaty of the Council of Europe – an older and larger organisation of 47 European countries from Iceland to Russia, including many non-EU countries. There is a serious risk that the UK Government will attempt to remove the UK from the Convention, and we will continue to strongly oppose that.

The protections of the ECHR are built into the UK Human Rights Act, and also into the Scotland Act, which is the constitution of the Scottish Government and Parliament. If the Human Rights Act is abolished by the UK Government, the Scottish Parliament can re-instate it for Scotland’s devolved purposes. We are confident that the Scottish Parliament would refuse to give consent for the Scotland Act to be amended to remove the ECHR-related protections.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the referendum result might affect LGBTI people in Scotland, please email us on en@equality-network.org. We will do our best, bearing in mind the current uncertainties, to answer.

Tim Hopkins