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United – An open letter to MSP’s in support of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

We are LGBT+ groups, and organisations from all over Scotland in all our diversity.

This week, the Scottish Parliament has a historic opportunity to continue Scotland’s journey towards full social and legal equality, for all LGBT+ people, by passing a new law which will remove bureaucratic and dehumanising barriers to legal gender recognition for trans men and women.

Collectively we work to make Scotland a better place. As an LGBT+ community we have seen the repeal of Section 28, protection from discrimination, and equal marriage as some of the key steps forward in a country that respects all who live here, no matter who they love or who they are. In this journey we have learned that we are stronger when we are united.

And on this issue we are united.

Passing the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill would be an important next step on our journey to making Scotland a place in which everyone can thrive.

We call on MSPs to reject amendments that would undermine the core principles of the bill. The core principles are:

  1. That gender recognition should be based on a statutory declaration that the person is living in their transitioned gender and intends to do so permanently 
  2. That the minimum age should be 16, with support and advice signposted and available for 16 and 17 year olds 
  3. That the effects of obtaining gender recognition should remain unchanged from those in place since 2005

We, the signatories of this letter, stand resolutely in support of trans equality and human rights. Today we reaffirm our support for the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill and ask all Members of the Scottish Parliament to vote in favour of the bill on 21st December.

Signed:

Arran Pride

Auld Reekie Roller Derby

Ayrshire LGBTQ

Caledonian Thebans RFC

Colinton Squashers and Padelers

Connexons LGBT Fife

Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus

Dundee Frontrunners

Dundee Pride

Dundee Roller Derby

Edinburgh University Staff Pride Network

End Conversion Therapy Scotland

Equality Network

Football v Homophobia Scotland

Four Pillars

Glasgow Frontrunners

Glasgow University LGBTQ+

Glasgow’s Pride Mardi Gla

Grampian Pride

Hebridean Pride 

Hidayah LGBT+

Highland Pride

HIV Scotland

HotScots FC

Lavender Menace CIC

LEAP Sports Scotland

LGBT Health and Wellbeing

LGBT Youth Scotland

LGBT+ Labour Scotland

LGBT+ Lib Dems

LGBTQ+ Staff Network at the University of Glasgow

Oban Pride

OurStory Scotland

Out for Independence

Outspoken Arts

Perth Parrots Floorball Club

Pink Saltire

Porty Pride

Pride Edinburgh

Pride Glasgow

Pride in Moray

Pride Outside

Proud Doonhamers

Public Health Scotland LGBT+ Staff Network

Queer Yoga Edinburgh

Rainbow Greens

Rainbow Heartlands

Saints LGBT+

Saltire Thistle FC

Save Pride Bridge

Scottish Bi+ Network

Scottish Borders LGBT Equality

Scottish Trans

Shetland LGBT

Sisters Scotland

Somewhere

SQIFF

Stonewall Scotland

STUC LGBT+ Workers’ Committee

SWAN

SX Scotland

Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland

The Hive LGBT Centre

Time For Inclusive Education

Trans Pride Scotland

UNISON Scotland LGBT+ Committee

Waverley Care

West Lothian Pride

LGBT+ and Benefits Research

Major research into LGBT+ people’s experiences of welfare benefits and/or assets

A group of trans-inclusive researchers from the University of Stirling, Sheffield Hallam University, and the University of Nottingham are beginning research with a view to improving the experiences of LGBT+ people dealing with the benefits system. It is an ambitious, large-scale study (120 in-depth interviews on top of analysis of existing data), so they’d appreciate any assistance in getting the message out there about their recruitment! They’re looking for volunteers who are:

  • LGBT+ (including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans people)
  • aged over 18
  • claiming (or have claimed since 2014) welfare benefits*, tax credits and/or a state pension
  • based in Scotland, Wales or England.

They’re particularly keen to speak to BAME folks/people of colour, because they’re often less represented in existing research. They are able to offer a £20 voucher as a thank you for taking part in an interview. The conversation is expected to last around an hour and can be at a time and (online or physical) place of your choice (covid-19/travel permitting). You can find further information here: https://tinyurl.com/5297jrrn. If you’d like to take part, or have any questions, please get in touch with e.formby [@] shu.ac.uk in the first instance:

*Welfare benefits can be any benefit you have received from Social Security Scotland, the Department for Work and Pensions, Job Centre Plus, or your local council.

The research will lead to research reports and briefings for organisations working with LGBT+ people. There will also be a series of short accessible videos for the public and other stakeholder groups, explaining people’s experiences and how to access support, ultimately to try and reduce any prejudices and discrimination.

https://lgbtqwelfare.stir.ac.uk/about-this-project/

Equality Network statement on the UK Government’s decision not to include trans people in the ban on so-called conversion therapy

The Equality Network, together with LGBTQ+ organisations right across the UK, shares the anger at the UK Government’s decision not to include trans people in a proposed ban on conversion practices in England & Wales.

As a result and in solidarity with trans people across the UK the Equality Network will not participate in the UK Government’s “Safe To Be Me” Conference. We fully support the similar decisions of other LGBTQ+ organisations. Trans people are not “Safe to Be Me” in the UK at present.

It has become increasingly clear over the past few days that while some in the UK Government support the rights of LGBTQ+ people, other parts of UK Government have no understanding of or consideration for trans people and are willing to sacrifice their rights.

We will continue to work to ensure the proposed ban on conversion practices in Scotland, which the Scottish Government have said will include sexual orientation and gender identity, is passed successfully by the Scottish Parliament while continuing to support UK wide efforts to ensure all LGBT people, including trans people are protected from this abhorrent practice.

Census 2022

Make sure LGBT+ people count!

Download our Census 2022 factsheet (PDF)

Complete the Scottish Census 2022

Every decade, the Scottish Government conducts a Census – a survey of everyone living in Scotland, to find out all sorts of useful statistical information about the people who live in different parts of Scotland. The information is used to help plan how money is spent on schools, roads, healthcare and other public services.

Every house is now being sent a letter asking the householder to complete the Census questionnaire online, or alternatively to request and complete a paper version.

The information released from the Census is statistical only – no personal information is released. The individual answers and personal details that people provide are kept secure and confidential for 100 years. The answers you give to the Census do not affect your legal rights, obligations or status in any way.

It is compulsory to complete the Census. It is a criminal offence not to complete it or to give false answers. You could be fined up to £1000 for those offences.

LGBT+ people and the Census

For the first time, the Census 2022 will ask questions about sexual orientation and trans status or history, alongside a wide range of other questions that include family relationships, housing, car ownership, health, religion, race, nationality, languages used, marital or civil partnership status, caring responsibilities, education, employment status, and veteran status.

The sexual orientation and trans status questions are only for people aged 16 and over, and they are voluntary, meaning that it is not an offence to skip either of these questions.

The Equality Network has long campaigned for the sexual orientation and trans status questions to be included, so that statistics can be obtained about LGBT+ people and how we live in Scotland.

We urge LGBT+ people to complete these questions, so we can get the best possible statistics in relation to LGBT+ people and have better planned services.

Remember that your answers are kept secure and confidential for 100 years. It is a serious criminal offence for anyone involved in the administration of the Census to reveal any information from it.

Confidentiality

The Census can be completed by the “householder” for everyone living in the house. However, that may not be appropriate in some cases.

Whatever your living circumstances, anyone aged 16 or over can privately complete their own Census questionnaire. You can find out about this, and request an individual private questionnaire, at www.census.gov.scot/individual

If you request an individual questionnaire, the rest of your household will not be informed of this. The answers you give on your individual questionnaire will override any answers about you given on the main household questionnaire. This means for example that if you are not out as LGBT+ to the people you share your house with, you can give different answers on your private individual questionnaire, and those will be the ones that are recorded.

The sexual orientation question

The sexual orientation question is voluntary, and for people aged 16 or over. It says:

Which of the following best describes your sexual orientation?

Straight / Heterosexual

Gay or Lesbian

Bisexual

Other sexual orientation, please write in: …

If you answer “Other” you can write in the way that best describes your sexual orientation.

The trans status or history question

The trans status or history question is voluntary, and for people aged 16 or over. It says:

Do you consider yourself to be trans, or have a trans history?

(Trans is a term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as the sex they were registered at birth)

No

Yes, please describe your trans status (for example, non-binary, trans man, trans woman): …

If you answer “Yes” you can write in the way that best describes your trans status. This will be the only place where information about non-binary people can be counted. If you’re a non-binary person, we’d urge you to use this box.

The sex question

The sex question in the Census is compulsory for everyone. It says:

What is your sex?

Female

Male

There is official guidance on this question for trans people. It says:

If you are transgender the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate. You do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

If you are non-binary or you are not sure how to answer, you could use the sex registered on your official documents, such as your passport.

A voluntary question about trans status or history will follow if you are aged 16 or over. You can respond as non-binary in that question.

So if you are a trans woman or trans man, you can answer with your lived sex.

The Census organisers had initially planned to include a third, non-binary, option to the sex question, that would have allowed non-binary people to respond in the same way that trans men and trans women are able to – in a way that reflects how they live their lives. But members of a Scottish Parliament Committee objected, and they returned to only providing ‘Female’ or ‘Male’ as options.

The online version of the Census requires you to answer the sex question with Female or Male before you can go on to the next question.

You can order a paper version of the Census –

Here for a paper questionnaire for the whole household: www.census.gov.scot/paper

Or here for an individual paper questionnaire: www.census.gov.scot/individual

Remember, it is compulsory to complete the Census. It is a criminal offence not to complete it, and it is also a criminal offence to give false answers. You could be fined up to £1000 for those offences.

Download our Census 2022 factsheet (PDF)

Further Out

There are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in every part of Scotland from our biggest cities to our smallest settlements and islands. We know through our published research, Further Out; The Scottish LGBT Rural Equality Report, that while LGBTI equality has progressed considerably in recent years the lived experience of LGBTI communities in urban settings is vastly different to that of LGBTI communities in more rural and island settings.

51% of LGBT people living in rural areas have personally experienced prejudice or discrimination for being LGBT.

70% feel that more needs to be done to tackle inequality experienced by LGBT people living outside of Scotland’s biggest cities.

62% believe that LGBT people outside of Scotland’s biggest cities face more inequality.

81% said they had experienced LGBT+ phobic comments and attitudes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pandemic too has had a big impact on LGBTI people living rurally, with less opportunities to connect with other LGBTI people, increasing loneliness and isolation.

That’s why we we’ll be taking to the road in August and September with out street stall, pride flags and materials. We’ll be reconnecting with LGBTI people on high streets and town squares across rural and island Scotland, and we’re up for a coffee and a chat in places where we won’t be setting up the street stall.

We’ll be following the latest COVID-19 guidance at all times, and will be taking regular lateral flow tests.

Where we’ll be (follow our social media channels for exact times and locations):

Monday 16th August Dunbar Street Stall on High Street
Tuesday 17th August Galashiels (morning) Street Stall on High Street
  Hawick (afternoon) Street Stall on Bourtree Place
Wednesday 18th August Dumfries Street Stall on High Street
Thursday 19th August Stranraer Street Stall on George Street
Friday 20th August Ayr Street Stall on High Street
Monday 23rd August St Andrews Street Stall on South Street
Tuesday 24th August Blairgowrie Street Stall on Wellmeadow
Wednesday 25th August Arbroath Street Stall on High Street
Thursday 26th August Stonehaven Street Stall on Market Square
Friday 27th August Lerwick, Shetland Street Stall
Monday 30th August Peterhead (morning) Street Stall on Marsichal Street 
  Fraserburgh (afternoon) Street Stall on Saltoun Square 
Tuesday 31st August Elgin Street Stall on High Street
Wednesday 1st September Aviemore Street Stall on Grampian Rd
Thursday 2nd September Wick Street Stall on High Street
Friday 3rd September Kirkwall, Orkney Street Stall
Monday 6th September Durness Coffee Shop
Tuesday 7th September Ullapool Street Stall
Wednesday 8th September Stornoway, Na h-Eileanan an Iar Street Stall
Thursday 9th September Portree Street Stall
Friday 10th September Fort William Street Stall
Monday 13th September Mallaig Coffee Shop
Tuesday 14th September North Uist Coffee Shop
Wednesday 15th September Benbecula/South Uist Coffee Shop
Thursday 16th September Barra Coffee Shop
Saturday 18th September Tobermory, Mull Coffee Shop
Monday 20th September Dunoon Street Stall
Tuesday 21st September Campbeltown Street Stall
Wednesday 22nd September Bowmore, Islay Coffee Shop
Thursday 23rd September Colonsay Coffee Shop
Saturday 25th September Oban Oban Pride

If you’ve any questions about Further Out or would like to get involved please contact scott [at] equality-network.org

New 2020-21 Hate Crime Figures

 

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) published the latest hate crime figures for 2020-21 on Friday 4th June.

The figures show that recorded sexual orientation aggravated crime continues to rise in Scotland, this could be a consequence of both an actual increase in hate crimes against LGB people (both real and perceived), and an increase in reporting by victims of hate crimes.

Sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most commonly reported type of hate crime. The number of charges reported increased by 5% in 2020-21 to 1,580. With the exception of 2014-15, there have been year on year increases in charges reported since the legislation introducing this aggravation came into force in 2010.


Transgender identity aggravated crime stayed roughly at the same level as 2019-20 with 46 charges reported in 2020-21 with an aggravation of transgender identity, compared to 47 in 2019-20.

COPFS statistics are useful but should not be regarded as reporting the whole picture of hate incidents and crimes experienced by LGBTI people. The Crown Office hate crime statistics count the number of reports by police to Procurators Fiscal (PFs). There is currently no national reporting in Scotland of the number of hate incidents reported to the police, or the number of hate crimes recorded by police. The new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 will require the annual publication of police statistics on hate crime, as well as conviction statistics from the courts, once the Act is fully in effect.

In addition, many hate incidents and crimes are not reported to police. The Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report (2017) reported that 81% of those who witnessed hate crimes did not report any incident to the police. Crown Office statistics therefore seriously under-report the level of hate incidents and crimes.

The Scottish Parliament passed a new hate crime law in March 2021. The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 is not yet in force. It clarifies the existing law, and also extends the existing crime of stirring up racial hatred, to cover stirring up hatred against a group of people defined by age, LGBTI status, disability, or religion. The offence is quite narrowly defined – it makes it a crime to act in a way that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive, and which is deliberately intended to stir up hatred.

Over £7k raised to support our work for LGBTI equality

We’d like to say a huge thank you to @AyeforScotland, @BlackeSkye and their team for raising an amazing £7240.66 to support our work for LGBTI equality. For 24 hours their online event on Twitch engaged many guests about LGBTI issues, all while the host played the Hollow Knight game.

All of our campaigning work is funded by donations, so we are hugely grateful to everyone who took part and donated.

If you missed the event but would still like to consider a donation you can do so on our JustGiving page here.

£5k to support online LGBT History Month Events in Scotland

COVID-19 will ensure this years LGBT History Month will be like no other before it, but as a major event in the LGBT+ calendar and as an important way to bring LGBT+ people together online, the show must go on! 

We’re pleased to be working with our friends LGBT Youth Scotland to support LGBT History Month in Scotland with £5000 of ring-fenced funding from our LGBTI Recovery Fund. Funding support of between £50 – £500 will be made available directly to LGBTI community groups and organisations to enable an LGBT History Month event to take place. This fund is now closed to new expressions of interest as we have now allocated over £5k of funding. We’re really looking forward to all the amazing events taking place to mark LGBT history month!

LGBT Youth Scotland will be supporting events to take place across Scotland and have produced an Action Pack to help you take part in this years LGBT History Month. More information on LGBT History Month Scotland can be found on the website here.

The LGBTI Recovery Fund is made possible with support from the Scottish Government Communities Recovery Fund.

 

 

Equality Network welcomes new fairer blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men.

Equality Network welcomes new fairer blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men.

Today we welcome the news that blood donation rules in Scotland, and the rest of the UK, will be changed this summer to remove the discriminatory three month ban on donations from men who have had sex with men.

Scott Cuthbertson, Development Manager said, “We’re delighted with the news that new fairer blood donation rules are being implemented based on an individualised assessment, this is something we have been calling for, for 15 years.”

For the first time since the early ‘80s gay and bisexual men will no longer be judged for who they are in blood donation criteria. Outdated rules which reinforced stigma, and were inconsistent with safer sex messages, will be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

The Equality Network has been campaigning on the issue for many years and we look forward to feeding into the new Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) risk assessment in advance of implementation in the summer of 2021.

The changes will also be implemented in England, Wales and NI.

This is what the Scottish Government have released:

Currently, men are not able to donate blood in the UK if they have had sex with another man in the past three months, in line with previous expert advice.

New recommendations, which the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) is satisfied will continue to ensure blood safety, mean men will no longer be automatically barred from giving blood if they have had sex with another man in the last three months. Instead, everyone will be given a more individual risk assessment, which will involve all potential donors being asked a few additional questions about their sexual behaviours. 

Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) will ensure there is information available for donors to explain the reasons for the changes and to give reassurance that all information provided by donors is kept strictly in confidence.

The changes follow recommendations by the specialist steering group for Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR) made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI+ groups. 

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“I welcome the recommendations of the FAIR group, which will enable a more individualised risk assessment approach to blood donor safety checks while continuing to ensure the safe supply of blood to patients.

“We are committed to equality and inclusion, and these changes will ensure a fairer and more up to date assessment of risk is applied to both men and women to identify whether donors may be at risk of a blood-borne virus infection.

“I am pleased to announce SNBTS expects to be able to implement these changes by summer 2021. They will be working to prepare their systems and staff for these changes and will also be working to raise awareness of the changes with existing and potential donors in advance.”

SNBTS Director Craig Spalding said:

“We are proud to have been involved in the work that has been undertaken to enable the Scottish Government to make an informed decision on reviewing and changing donor eligibility requirements.

“Donor eligibility based on personal risk assessments, rather than on broader demographic information such as sexuality, is a welcome change.

“We are grateful for all the donors of Scotland and are looking forward to welcoming a broader cross section of the population, in particular those men who have sex with men who will be able to donate blood under the new criteria.”

LGBTI Recovery Fund

We were pleased to announce the £20,000 LGBTI Recovery Fund in January. The fund has now been topped up with an additional £6k and extended until the end of May 2021.

So far during the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been able to distribute over £120,000 directly to LGBTI groups and organisations across Scotland to support their efforts in COVID-19 relief and resilience.

We hope this further £26,000 fund will help in the recovery of LGBTI groups providing vital support to LGBTI people across the country. 

The LGBTI Recovery Fund is made possible through funding from the Scottish Government Communities Recovery Fund.

We have set out the following fund criteria to ensure maximum benefit for LGBTI community organisations and groups across Scotland:

  • LGBTI Groups must be not for profit and LGBTI led.
  • Individuals cannot apply.
  • Requested funds must be for a purpose.
  • The fund is designed primarily for small amounts (Between £50 – £500)
  • Groups must be in Scotland, or deliver work in Scotland.
  • All money must be committed by the 31st May 2021.
  • We are unable to fund duplication.

There may be exceptions, especially to ensure the representation of under represented groups within the LGBTI community, which we are happy to discuss.


The PRIDE Support Fund is a £7.5k fund supporting Scotland’s Pride events, which have been running online during the pandemic, with the cost of technology and mitigation. We want to help ensure Pride’s have the tools to continue inclusive and accessible online events until large public events can take place again once more. Pride and visibility events are an important means to reduce isolation and stigma for LGBTI people and this fund recognises the contribution of Scotland’s Pride events to these aims. Equality Network have already, thanks to our funders, been able to support online visibility and pride events in Scotland with over £25k of support funding in 2020/21. This is part of the LGBTI Recovery Fund and the criteria above applies.


LGBTI organisations and groups in Scotland can express interest in the available funding here. If you are a sports group you should apply via our funding partner LEAP Sports Scotland here.

This funding is to support LGBTI groups and organisations with limited resources and capacity with Equality Network acting as a intermediary organisation to ensure funds go quickly to LGBTI communities that need them most. Organisations looking for larger amounts of funding should apply directly to the Scottish Government Communities Recovery Fund.

Should you have any questions about the fund please contact scott@equality-network.org