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Code of Conduct

Events Code of Conduct

We are committed to making our events as safe, respectful, inclusive and enjoyable as possible. Our events draw a wide variety of attendees with different identities, views and experiences so it is important that everyone has a common understanding of appropriate behaviour.

We require all attendees of our events to follow this code of conduct.  

If you think you might have difficulty understanding or following this code of conduct, please let us know before the start of the event so that we can help you.

Respectful Communication

  • Respect each other’s identities, names and pronouns at all times.
  • If you are unsure of the pronoun someone uses ask them or avoid gendered language, e.g. use “they” instead of “he” or “she”.
  • Be inclusive and supportive of those who are less confident or who have communication difficulties so that everyone can contribute.
  • Listen to and follow the instructions of facilitators, including their decisions about what is off-topic and who is next to speak and for how long.
  • Rather than interrupt another participant who is speaking, indicate to the facilitator that you wish to speak and then wait your turn.
  • Friendly constructive discussion is welcomed but personal insults and demeaning or argumentative comments are not acceptable.
  • Avoid using offensive terms derived from pornography.

Equality and Diversity

  • Accept people’s self-identified gender for all purposes.
  • Everyone is entitled to use whichever toilet they self-define as most appropriate for their gender identity and gender expression.
  • Avoid negative comments, assumptions and stereotyping of people on the basis of their gender identity, gender expression, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, disability, religion, beliefs, age, accent or culture.

Confidentiality

  • Keep personal information about others private and only share if they have given you permission.
  • Get permission before publicly identifying any event attendee, including on personal blogs, websites and social networking sites, e.g. Facebook.
  • Ensure you have permission from everyone with their face visible in shot before taking a photograph.
  • Ensure you have permission from everyone who might be recorded before starting any audio or film recording.
  • If you believe someone has photographed, audio recorded or filmed you without your permission, you may ask them to delete the image/recording or urgently contact any of the event organisers for assistance.
  • The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance will not publish information, photographs or recordings which may identify attendees without their permission.
  • The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance will not share any information about attendees without permission unless necessary due to safety concerns.

General Behaviour

  • Attendees may leave a session or event at any time without explanation.
  • The behaviours of others are never justification for anyone to break this Code of Conduct in response.
  • Alcohol consumption is not permitted, except in moderation at specific evening events.
  • Any attendee who causes damage to property will be held liable.
  • The use or possession of illicit drugs is never permitted during our events.
  • Shouting, swearing, harassing, threatening or humiliating behaviour (verbal, physical or sexual) towards others is unacceptable.

What happens if the Code of Conduct is broken?

Please let us know as soon as possible if you experience or witness anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or which may be in breach of the Code of Conduct. Even if you do not want anything done, please still let us know.

If you are able you can tell us during the event by speaking to the facilitator/s, or after the event by contacting en@equality-netowork.org or calling us on 0131 467 6039.

Examples of things we can do:

  • listen to you in a private space
  • talk to the others involved
  • ask for an apology
  • ask them to leave you alone
  • require them to not be where you are
  • exclude them from the rest of the event
  • exclude them from future events

Breaches of the Code of Conduct will be dealt with at the discretion of the Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance staff. The Equality Network / Scottish Trans Alliance may also make other reasonable requests that are not specifically included here or take other action if necessary.

Thank you for reading and following this Code of Conduct.
If you have any questions, please contact us.

Together – An open letter to MSPs from the LGBT community in support of trans equality.

We are LGBT groups, and organisations working for LGBT equality, from all over Scotland.

The LGBT community in Scotland, and our allies, have worked together for a better Scotland, changing this country for the better of all its people and challenging sexual orientation and gender reassignment discrimination. In this journey we have learned that as an LGBT community we are stronger when we are united.

In all our progress in working towards our shared goal of equality for all, we have proudly recognised and valued the range of needs and priorities within our diverse community.

Recently, we have been concerned by attempts by some to isolate the trans community from the wider LGBT community; this goes against everything we stand for.

Trans people are the women, men, and non-binary people that they say they are.

We are resolute and united in support of trans equality and human rights, as we have always been, and today reaffirm our support for trans people and equality.

We stand for LGBT equality alongside equality for all other groups – there is no real equality unless it is equality for all.

We stand for full inclusion in the census. People must be allowed to record their own sexual orientation, even if they use less common terms. Trans people must be allowed to record the sex in which they live.

We stand in support of a reformed Gender Recognition Act that enables trans people to more smoothly change their birth certificates to match their lives and other identity documents.

Signed:

Aberdeen LGBTQ+ Forum
Amazing Gracies
Auld Reekie Roller Derby
Ayrshire LGBT+ Education Network
Ayrshire LGBTQ
Ayrshire Pride
Bute LGBT+
Bute Pride
Caledonian Thebans RFC
Colinton Squashers
ConnexONS Fife
Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus
Dundee Frontrunners
Dundee Pride
Dundee University LGBT+ Society
Dunoon Pride
Edinburgh Frontrunners
Edinburgh Racqueteers
Edinburgh STRIDE
Edinburgh University Staff Pride Network
Equality Network
Four Pillars
Free Pride Glasgow
Glasgow Alphas RFC
Glasgow Frontrunners
Glasgow LGBTQI Substance Use Working Group
Glasgow University LGBTQ+
Grampian Pride
Hebridean Pride
Hidayah LGBT
Highland LGBT Forum
Highland Pride
Hiv Scotland
HotScots FC
LEAP Sports Scotland
LGBT Health and Wellbeing
LGBT Unity
LGBT Youth Scotland
LGBT+ Conservatives
LGBT+ Labour Scotland
LGBT+ Lib Dems
Moray LGBT
NetworQ Orkney
Oban Pride
Orkney Pride
OurStory Scotland
Out for Independence
Out On Sundays
Outspoken Arts
PCS Proud
Perth Parrots Floorball Club
Perthshire Pride
Pink Saltire
Pride East Kilbride
Pride Edinburgh
Pride Glasgow
Pride in the Borders
Pride Proms Project
Pride Saltire – East Lothian
Queer Ephemera
Queer Napier
Rainbow Glasgaroos
Rainbow Greens
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland LGBTQ+ Society
Saltire Thistle FC
Scene Alba Magazine
Scene Radio
Scottish Bi+ Network
Scottish Borders LGBT Equality
Scottish LGBTI Police Association
Sisters Scotland
Shelf Satisfaction
Somewhere EDI
SQIFF
Stirling University LGBTQ+ Society
Stonewall Scotland
SX Health
Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland
Time For Inclusive Education
University of Glasgow LGBT+ Staff Network
Vale Pride
Waverley Care
West Lothian Pride
Winter Pride Scotland

Equality Organisations Welcome Scottish Government Draft Bill To Reform The Gender Recognition Act

Leading LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) organisations in Scotland have welcomed the Scottish Government’s draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, published today. The draft bill is out for public consultation until 17 March 2020.

According to Scottish Trans Alliance, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing, the draft bill is a step in the right direction towards greater equality for transgender people in Scotland.

The Scottish Government previously ran a four month consultation in 2018 on how the Gender Recognition Act, which dates from 2004, could be improved. They received over 15,500 consultation responses. Two-thirds (65%) of Scottish respondents agreed with the proposed reform to a statutory declaration system.

The Scottish Government draft bill aims to simplify how transgender people change the sex on their birth certificates. The key changes are to:

  • Move to a system whereby a trans person makes a formal legal statutory declaration confirming the sex in which they have been living for at least 3 months and their intention to continue to do so for the rest of their life.
  • Introduce a 3 month ‘reflection’ period before a gender recognition certificate would be issued, meaning a trans person will have had to live in that sex for over 6 months before being able to change their birth certificate.
  • Remove the current requirement to provide a demeaning psychiatric report containing intrusive details such as what toys trans people played with as children, their sexual relationships and how distressed they were before transitioning.
  • Remove the current requirement to provide an invasive medical report describing any hormonal or surgical treatment they are planning or have undergone, or confirming they do not intend to undergo such treatment.
  • Allow 16 and 17 year olds to apply for a gender recognition certificate.

Passports, driving licences, medical records and employment records are already changed by self-declaration when a person starts transitioning. The gender recognition process to change a trans person’s sex on their birth certificate will remain more difficult than changing their sex on other identity documents.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s publication of their draft bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act. The current process to change the sex on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel years after they transitioned.

“What’s written on a trans person’s birth certificate is not the deciding factor for their access to single-sex services or sports competitions. The reasons trans people change the sex on their birth certificate are so that they no longer have the worry of being ‘outed’ by that last piece of paperwork not matching their other ID, and to be sure that, when they die, nobody can erase their hard-won identity and right to be recorded as themselves.

“We are very pleased that the draft bill is based on statutory declaration not psychiatric evidence and that it reduces the age for application from 18 to 16. However, we are disappointed that the Scottish Government has chosen not to include under 16s or non-binary trans people in the draft bill. We urge the Scottish Government to expand the bill so that all trans people can have equal inclusion and acceptance within Scottish society.”  

During the recent UK election campaign, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked about reform of the Gender Recognition Act and replied:

“The reform of the Gender Recognition Act is about making the process of legally changing gender less intrusive, less bureaucratic and less traumatic for trans people. It doesn’t change the situation of single sex or women’s only spaces, that is governed by the Equality Act, which we are not proposing to change. You don’t need a gender recognition certificate to access women only spaces right now.

“I am a supporter of trans rights, I’m a supporter of women’s rights and I think it is incumbent on people like me to demonstrate that those things aren’t and needn’t be in tension and in competition. I am a lifelong feminist. I would not be proposing or arguing for something that I thought would be ‘trampling women’s rights’.”

[BBC Radio 5 Live (2 Dec 2019): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000cqdy at timestamp 33:30]

Dr Mhairi Crawford, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said:

“LGBT Youth Scotland welcomes today’s announcement and are pleased that transgender young people over 16 are included in the draft bill.

“We support the proposed changes to enable 16 and 17 year olds to change their legal paperwork to align with their gender identity, recognising trans young people’s right to privacy and to be protected from discrimination. In Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote, leave school, get married and have children. They can already change the sex on their passports and education records. It makes little sense to deny them the protections that updating their birth certificate affords them.

“We share young people’s disappointment that there is no inclusion of non-binary people in this draft bill and no process for under 16s who wish to obtain legal recognition of their gender. We do, however, recognise that progress takes time and regard today’s draft bill as a steppingstone to full legal recognition for trans people. LGBT Youth Scotland will strive to bring trans young people’s views and experiences to the fore during this consultation and we will work closely with our Youth Commission on gender recognition as we develop our organisational response.”

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Coordinator at Equality Network, said:

“As a lesbian feminist woman, I know that trans rights are not in contradiction of, nor counter to, the fight for women’s rights and equality, of which I am part. Scotland’s national women’s organisations broadly support the reform of the Gender Recognition Act to a statutory declaration system. Now that the draft bill has been published, it is very clear that it does not make any changes to the Equality Act’s single-sex services provisions, so will have no effect on the way single-sex spaces can choose to operate.

Sophie Bridger, Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager at Stonewall Scotland, said:

“Scotland has a proud history of being a progressive country and this Bill gives us the chance to help trans communities be recognised for who they are. Reforming the Gender Recognition Act to replace the current dehumanising, medicalised process with a process of statutory declaration would be life-changing for many trans people. However, we’d like to see the Bill go further to recognise non-binary identities, so every part of the trans community can benefit from the legislative change.

“Trans people have suffered for too long from inequalities that can be easily removed. So we need everyone who cares about equality to ‘come out’ in support of reforming the Gender Recognition Act and respond to the government’s consultation on the draft Bill.”

Dr Rosie Tyler-Greig, Policy and Influencing Manager at LGBT Health & Wellbeing, said:

“LGBT Health and Wellbeing welcomes the draft bill and the opportunity for trans people and their organisations to re-affirm the importance of a more accessible and respectful gender recognition process. Improving the process will relieve a lot of stress for many trans people, who currently struggle to gather complicated evidence and medical reports just to be recognised as who they are. It is only right that at significant points in the life course, such as accessing pensions or getting married, trans people’s paperwork matches who they are – something the majority of us can take for granted. We remain disappointed that recognition for non-binary people is not included in the proposed changes and we urge Scottish Government to take positive steps towards ensuring everyone can be recognised for who they are.”


For further information, and any press requests, please contact James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, on 07554 992626 or james@equality-network.org

Notes to editors:

  1. The Scottish Government draft Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill can be found at: https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/gender-recognition-reform-scotland-bill/
  2. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows trans people to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate. However, the procedure is intrusive and humiliating, and is not available to people under 18 or to non-binary people. In their 2016 Holyrood manifestos, the SNP, Labour, the Greens and LibDems all committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act, and the Tories committed to review it. The Scottish Government consulted publicly on proposals for reform, from November 2017 to March 2018 and two-thirds of the Scottish respondents supported reform to a statutory declaration system: https://www2.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00540424.pdf and https://www.gov.scot/publications/review-gender-recognition-act-2004-analysis-responses-public-consultation-exercise-report/
  3. The national Scottish women’s organisations broadly support the reform of the Gender Recognition Act to a statutory declaration system. Their support statement can be found at: https://www.engender.org.uk/news/blog/statement-in-support-of-the-equal-recognition-campaign-and-reform-of-the-gender-recognitio/
  4. 23 governments already provide legal gender recognition through statutory declaration: Argentina (population 44 million), Belgium (11 million), 5 provinces in Canada (5.5 million), Colombia (49 million), Denmark (5.7 million), Ireland (4.7 million), Malta (0.5 million), Norway (5.2 million), Portugal (10 million), 2 regions in Spain (14 million), Uruguay (3.4 million) and 7 states in the USA (71 million).
  5. Gender recognition reform does not affect sport. Where necessary for fair and safe competition, sports governing bodies will continue to be able to restrict trans people’s participation regardless of whether they have received legal gender recognition.
  6. Gender recognition reform does not create any new rights for trans people to access single-sex services. For example, trans women have never been required to change the sex on their birth certificates in order to use women’s toilets, changing facilities or other women’s services. The Equality Act 2010 will continue to provide single-sex services with the ability to treat a trans person differently from other service users if that is a proportionate response to achieve a legitimate aim (such as ensuring adequate privacy). This Equality Act provision applies regardless of whether the trans person has received legal gender recognition.
  7. Gender recognition reform does not affect criminal justice. A trans person’s gender recognition history and previous identity details are permitted to be shared for the purpose of preventing or investigating crime. Receiving gender recognition does not prevent someone from being prosecuted or convicted for any criminal behaviour, nor does it enable them to hide any previous convictions.
  8. The Scottish Government’s statutory declaration system would still require a trans man or trans woman to be living permanently as a man or woman before they can receive legal gender recognition. It would remain more difficult for a trans person to change the sex on their birth certificate than it is for them to change the sex on their driving licence, medical records, passport, bank accounts and other identity documents. Making a fraudulent statutory declaration is a serious criminal offence of perjury and is punishable by imprisonment.
  9. Scottish Trans Alliance scottishtrans.org is Scotland’s national transgender equality and human rights project and is based within the Equality Network, a national charity working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland: www.equality-network.org
  10. LGBT Youth Scotland lgbtyouth.org.uk is Scotland’s largest youth and community based organisation for LGBT young people. We regularly support professionals to meet the needs of gender non-conforming children under the age of 13 and work with a high number of transgender young people under the age of 16 within our services. We run youth groups across Scotland and two national participation projects, including the LGBT Youth Commission on Gender Recognition.
  11. Stonewall Scotland stonewallscotland.org.uk campaign for equality and justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people living in Scotland. We work with businesses, the public sector, local authorities, the Scottish Government and Parliament and a range of partners to improve the lived experience of LGBT people in Scotland.
  12. LGBT Health and Wellbeing www.lgbthealth.org.uk works to promote the health, wellbeing and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults in Scotland. We run the LGBT Helpline Scotland and provide a range of community projects, including specialist mental health services and trans-specific social and support programmes.”

Three day demo at the Parliament to defend trans rights

Campaigners from the Equality Network’s Scottish Trans Alliance project will demonstrate for three days at the Scottish Parliament this week, to highlight what they describe as a major threat to trans people’s rights. They are warning of a new “section 28”, targeting trans people, as attempts are made to try to change the rules that currently recognise trans people’s lived sex.

Over the first three days of the new Parliamentary year, Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5th September, the campaign will maintain a presence outside the Parliament under the banner “Defend Trans Rights – Our Lives Are Real”.

The focus of the demonstration is on attempts to change the basis of the next Census, in 2021, so that instead of answering the sex question in the sex they live as, trans people are forced to answer with the sex they were assigned at birth. The Scottish Government proposes to continue with the arrangements for previous Censuses, under which trans men and trans women answer in their lived sex. But the convener of the Parliamentary Committee considering the Census rules, Joan McAlpine MSP, is calling for this to be changed to require trans people to answer with their “biological sex at birth”.

James Morton, Manager of the Scottish Trans Alliance said, “In all previous Censuses, trans men and trans women have answered using their lived sex, and that has worked well. To change that would fundamentally undermine the long established practice, and internationally established human right, of recognising our lived sex. There is no doubt that if those who want this change to be made in the Census are successful, they will move on to try to stop trans people being recognised as our lived sex in other areas such as our use of services including the NHS and education, and in government and other equality policies.”

He added, “If the Census is changed in this way, it will be the first time that LGBT equality in legislation has gone backwards anywhere in the UK since the introduction of section 28 under Margaret Thatcher in 1988. Section 28 labelled same-sex relationships as ‘pretended’. The suggested change to the Census sex question would similarly state that trans people’s lived sex is not real. That’s why we’re here at the Parliament to defend against this threat to trans rights, and to say Our Lives Are Real.”

 

Statement on reform of the Gender Recognition Act

We welcome that today’s announcement is a key step further towards reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The Scottish Government has reaffirmed their plan to move to a system of self-declaration, which would be a big improvement on the current process, and would remove the intrusive and humiliating requirements to provide both psychiatric and medical reports to a tribunal panel of medical strangers – and recognise that trans men and trans women are the only experts on their own identities. Cabinet Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said “It is our commitment to bring forward a bill in this Parliament.”

However, we share people’s frustration with how long reform to the Gender Recognition Act is taking, and the stress this is placing on our communities. This announcement comes 16 months after the very long and extensive consultation process closed. We call on the Government to publish the draft bill swiftly after the Summer recess – further delays are simply providing more space for inaccurate and harmful conversations to carry on, and leadership on this topic is more important than ever. While all legislation goes through multiple stages of consultation and scrutiny, it is vital that from now on the focus is on the technical details of the bill and not a rehash of the previous massive consultation.

Although a move to a system of statutory declaration is a big improvement on the current process, the Government’s draft bill would still mean a law that falls short of providing legal recognition for all trans people in Scotland.

We call on the Scottish Government to allow 16 and 17 year olds to change their birth certificates through the same statutory declaration process as over 18s. In Scotland, they are allowed to vote, leave school, get married and have children. They can already change the sex on their passports and education records. It makes no sense to deny them the privacy protection of being able to update their birth certificate. For trans children who are under 16, gender recognition ought to be made available with parental consent.

In the initial consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act, the Scottish Government invited views about legal gender recognition for non-binary people, which a majority of respondents supported. The government are not proposing to introduce legal recognition, but are establishing a working group to look at “procedure and practice”. The UK and Scottish Governments have always been reluctant to provide full legal recognition for non-binary people. Therefore, we are frustrated but not surprised that it will most likely be necessary for us to use the courts to ensure that non-binary people are fully afforded the same right to have their lived identities recognised as is granted to trans men and trans women. We will continue to strongly make the case for non-binary recognition, and to work with policy makers to improve non-binary people’s equality and inclusion in workplaces, public services and data collection.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – UK Alliance for Global Equality Statement

 

The UK Alliance for Global Equality (The UK Alliance) stands in solidarity with the millions of LGBT+ people around the world who are consistently denied justice and safety – the two interlinking themes of today’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). As a coalition of UK-based civil society organisations working together to promote and support progress in global LGBT+ rights, we use our collective resources and influence to promote the human rights and equality of LGBT+ individuals and communities outside the UK, to end persecution and discrimination.

Across the world LGBT+ people are refused justice and denied safety. In 73 jurisdictions LGBT+ people are criminalised for who they are and who they love. They face discrimination, violence and exclusion from health services, education and employment and in some cases, the death penalty.  

Members of The UK Alliance understand that ensuring that LGBT+ people can access safety and justice requires a range of skills. Working with LGBT activists across the world, our members are fighting for justice for LGBT+ people by:

  • Challenging and supporting changing the laws that mean that currently more than a billion people live in countries where same sex relations are illegal.
  • Working with the UK Government and international bodies to challenge the impunity enjoyed by those who torture and murder our community, such as in countries like Chechnya.
  • Providing psychosocial support, legal advice and advocacy to get a better deal for LGBT+ people in search of sanctuary in other countries.
  • Developing partnerships and networks with LGBT+ organisations in countries around the world to support their efforts to build capacity, attract resources and become sustainable.

But even when laws are improved, LGBT+ people around the world continue to be denied protection. Our members work to support those forced to live in fear including through:

  • Using research, communications and public campaigning with our global partners to change the conversation about LGBT+ people, moving hearts and minds.
  • Working with employers of all sizes to ensure that they do their part to eliminate discrimination in the workplace against LGBT+ people and help improve the lives of all LGBT+ people.
  • Providing crisis support to LGBT+ people being denied the right to health, including access to condoms, lubricants, ARVs and other appropriate HIV services.
  • Offering safety and security training for LGBT+ activists in hostile environments to protect human rights defenders against violence and abuse.

The UK Alliance brings together organisations that deploy a diverse set of tools and tactics. What unites us is our vision of a world where everyone can participate fully in their society, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

ENDS

Find out more about what individuals members of the UK Alliance are doing to mark IDAHOBIT, by visiting their websites.

Signed by:

 

All Out – http://www.allout.org/

Equality Network – https://www.equality-network.org/

Frontline AIDS – https://frontlineaids.org/

Human Dignity Trust – https://www.humandignitytrust.org/

Kaleidoscope Trust – http://kaleidoscopetrust.com/ 

Stonewall – https://www.stonewall.org.uk/

STOPAIDS – http://stopaids.org.uk/

UK Black Pride – https://www.ukblackpride.org.uk/

UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group – https://uklgig.org.uk/

National students and young people’s organisations call for reform of the Gender Recognition Act

On International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) national youth organisations from across the political spectrum have come together to sign a letter in support of reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

The letter, signed by Children in Scotland, SNP Students, Scottish Labour Students, Scottish Young Liberals, Scottish Young Greens, Scottish Youth Parliament and NUS Scotland says:

“We, the undersigned, are national youth and student organisations that want to express our support and solidarity to trans people across Scotland, and call for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

When the Gender Recognition Act was passed in 2004, it was considered world-leading because it didn’t require trans people to be sterilised before gaining legal recognition of their gender. In the years that have passed, understanding and knowledge of trans rights has changed quickly, and as other countries have passed legal recognition laws to reflect this, Scotland’s has fallen behind standards set elsewhere.

We want this to change, and note the manifesto pledges of all the political parties in the Scottish Parliament. We support reform of the Gender Recognition Act to bring it in-line with international best practice. This means a system of self-declaration open to those who are 16 and over, that legally recognises non-binary people, and that allows children and young people under 16 a means of obtaining legal recognition.

We think it’s time for a law that reflects our understanding of what trans equality looks like. We think it’s time for a law that reflects Scotland’s ambitions in 2019 of being modern, inclusive, and welcoming to all.”

Scottish Youth Parliament

 

Scottish Young Greens
Scottish Young Liberals
 
 
Scottish Labour Students
SNP Students

 
Children in Scotland

 
NUS Scotland

 

Vic Valentine, Policy Officer at Scottish Trans Alliance, said: “We’re delighted that these important student and young people’s organisations have come together on IDAHOBIT to support reforming the Gender Recognition Act. This law needs urgently updating, to ensure all trans people can have legal recognition of who we are without having to engage with an expensive, complicated, and dehumanising process. When the Scottish Government consulted on reforming this law last year, a clear majority was in favour of all of the changes this letter calls for.”

Paul Daly, Senior Practitioner of LGBT Youth Scotland, said: “Young people talk to us about the impacts of GRA reform and the hopes they have for the future. They want to see a progressive Scotland and legislation that truly reflects their needs and experiences. 

Trans young people are acutely aware of negative messages and misinformation regarding the proposed changes. They strongly feel that trans women ARE women, trans men ARE men and that non-binary people have a right to be recognised. Importantly, this is having a significant impact on their lives – they tell us that this is hurtful and they feel like their identities are not valued. ”

Happy new year and best wishes for 2019!

2019 is a year of anniversaries. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Government and Parliament, which were founded on the principle of equal opportunities for all.

February is the 50th anniversary of the formation of Scotland’s first gay rights group, Scottish Minorities Group, which, with others, began a social and legal revolution for LGB people.

And June is the 50th anniversary of the protests by hundreds of LGBT people at the Stonewall Inn in New York that are considered to have kick-started the modern LGBT equality movement in the western world. (The photo is of protesters during a break in the second night of protests, 28th June 1969)

I am lucky enough to have been part of the last 32 of the 50 years of campaigning that we celebrate this year. In the 1980s, the groups I was in focussed mainly on LGB equality, and at that time, LGB people were subjected to outrageous slurs and misinformation, aided and promoted by much of the press. Many reasonable people heard these things so often that they thought some of them at least must be true.

We were told that equal rights for LGB people would lead to a big and problematic increase in the number of LGB people. We were told that recognising same-sex relationships would undermine straight people’s rights.

We were told that LGB people wanted to ‘recruit’ young people and ‘turn them gay’. And we were even told that LGB people posed a risk and should not be allowed to work with vulnerable adults and young people.

Disgraceful stuff, that wouldn’t be said today …

… except that it is being said today – it’s being said about trans people.

We are told that equal rights for trans people will lead to a big and problematic increase in the number of trans people. We are told that recognising trans people’s gender identity will undermine non-trans women’s rights.

We are told that trans people want to ‘recruit’ young people and ‘turn them trans’. And we are even told that trans people pose a risk and should not be allowed to work with vulnerable adults and young people.

This misinformation is aided and promoted by some of the press. Many reasonable people hear these things so often that they think that some of them at least must be true.

But they are just as untrue as they were when they were said about LGB people.

Just as many of us did three decades ago, when misunderstandings and deliberate falsehoods seemed sometimes to make progress on LGB equality almost impossible, the Equality Network will continue steadfastly to stand up for trans equality, speaking the truth, rebutting misinformation, and campaigning until equality is won, for trans people and all LGBTI people.

Just as the Scottish Executive and Parliament did in their first year, standing up for LGB equality, considering the real evidence, and repealing section 28, so we call on the Scottish Government and Parliament in their 21st year to stand up for trans equality, consider the real evidence, and repeal the barriers and unfairness in our gender recognition law, bringing it up to international best practice.

LGBT people stood together at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago, and we stand together now. None of us has achieved equality until all of us have achieved equality, and the Equality Network is determined to see Scotland continue in 2019 to make progress towards the promise of equality for all.

Tim Hopkins, Director, Equality Network

 

News release: Passing of pardons bill welcomed by LGBTI charity

Scottish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) equality charity the Equality Network welcomes the expected passing today by the Scottish Parliament of the bill that pardons people convicted of the old discriminatory offences of sex between men. The Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill has its final stage 3 debate in the Parliament this afternoon.

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, said: “We very much welcome the Parliament passing this bill. This is concrete recognition of the huge harm that was done to people who were prosecuted or lived under these old laws. Together with the First Minister’s public apology in the Parliament in November, the message is that Scotland has changed for good, and that discrimination is no longer acceptable.

“The next stage will be to implement and publicise the new law. Publicity will be crucial so that all those affected by these historical convictions get to hear about it.

“LGBTI people continue to face prejudice and hostility, and there is much more to do. We look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government, on the forthcoming reform of the Gender Recognition Act for trans people, and other work to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and to promote fairness for all.”

The bill states clearly that these historical convictions were wrong and discriminatory, and the First Minister made a public apology for this on behalf of the Scottish Government when the bill was published on 7th November last year. The bill gives a formal pardon for these convictions where the activity would not be a crime today. The pardon applies both posthumously to people who are no longer living, and to those who are living. The bill also enables people who have one of these convictions on their records to have it removed (called a “disregard”), so that it no longer shows up on criminal record checks for employment or volunteering.

Tim Hopkins added: “The bill does a better job than the equivalent legislation in the rest of the UK. Unlike that legislation, it provides an automatic pardon to people who are still alive, and also covers all the old discriminatory offences, including where men were prosecuted simply for chatting up other men – called ‘importuning’.”

Until 1981, all sexual activity between men was a criminal offence in Scotland. Legislation in 1980 (which came into effect in 1981) decriminalised sex between men over the age of 21 (the age of consent for sex between men and women, or between two women, was then 16). In 1994 the age of consent for sex between men was reduced from 21 to 18, but it was not until 2001 that the discrimination was removed, by equalising the age of consent at 16.

Prior to these changes, men were prosecuted for activity with another man that would have been legal then between a man and a woman, and that is legal today between two men. This included consensual sexual activity in private, and acts such as kissing another man in a public place, or just chatting up another man in a public place.

The Equality Network estimates that the total number of these historical discriminatory convictions in Scotland runs into thousands, and that there are hundreds of men alive today with such convictions on their records.

 

Sex between women was never criminalised in this way in Scotland, and the same rules applied to it as applied for sex between a man and a woman.

It is likely to take some months for the Scottish Government to put in place the regulations that will set out how criminal records will be updated when a disregard is granted, so it is expected that the new law will come into effect towards the end of the year.

ENDS

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:
www.equality-network.org

2. The First Minister’s statement of apology can be found here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11174&i=101857

3. More information about the bill and consideration of it by the Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, can be found here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/106817.aspx

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.

ENDS

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:
www.equality-network.org

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: http://www.equality-network.org/resources/publications/policy/scottish-lgbti-hate-crime-report/