There has been significant progress on LGBT equality in the first two decades of the Scottish Parliament, from the repeal of Section 28 to the introduction of equal marriage. In the five years since the 2016 election, positive steps have been taken to build upon this progress, including world-leading work towards LGBT-inclusive education in Scotland’s schools, the pardon for historical ‘homosexual offences’, and equal civil partnerships.
But the last five years have also been challenging for many LGBTI people – in Scotland and around the world. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation and transgender identity are on the rise, waiting times for gender identity services have continued to increase alarmingly, LGBT mental health inequalities continue, toxic debates about LGBT identities are ongoing, and many trans people still do not have access to full legal recognition of their gender. Scotland is falling down the ILGA Europe Rainbow Index and must take action to continue to uphold its international reputation as a leading voice on LGBT equality.
The world has also changed considerably since the last election. The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health measures taken in response to it have affected everyone, but have exacerbated existing inequalities faced by marginalised communities. These include LGBTI people, particularly LGBTI people of colour, disabled people, younger and older people, and those living rurally.
In this LGBTI equality manifesto, we set out the concrete steps that the next Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament can take, over the next five years, to improve the lives of LGBTI people living in Scotland. This includes improving public services, delivering legal equality, tackling discrimination, promoting wellbeing, and building a more equal Scotland.
Our approach to developing this manifesto
This manifesto has been co-developed by national LGBTI organisations Stonewall Scotland, Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance, and LGBT Youth Scotland. It sets out our joint priorities for delivering equality for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, and people with a variation in sex characteristics or who are intersex (I/VSC) in the 2021-2026 parliamentary term. It is further endorsed by our partners at LGBT Health and Wellbeing, LEAP Sports Scotland, Time for Inclusive Education, and iCON UK.
Our organisations work to achieve equality for LGBTI people. There are important differences in the experiences, needs and marginalisations of these groups of people. Experiences of discrimination and marginalisation due to sexual orientation, trans status or variations in sex characteristics can vary widely, and thus require different and multifaceted solutions. Some of our calls in this manifesto are specific to particular groups – such as bisexual people, or non-binary people. Some of our calls will be specific to LGBTI people who are marginalised in multiple ways – such as LGBTI refugees, or older LGBTI people.
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Equality Network is a national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.
The Equality Network is a registered Scottish charity: SC037852, and a company limited by guarantee: SC220213.
We are grateful for funding from the Scottish Government