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12 December 2023   |    Letters

Letter in the National newspaper 12/12/2023

I am writing in response to Neale Hanvey’s column in Monday’s paper (LGB people are now facing a bigger threat than Section 28), as someone who has been campaigning for LGBT equality in Scotland since the 1980s. In 87/88 I was a member of the small group who organised the first campaign against section 28, including the Lark in the Park events that Neale Hanvey mentions.

The following year, I was one of a handful of gay men who set up Scotland’s ACT UP group to campaign against HIV discrimination. A couple of years after that, the late, great campaigner Derek Ogg and I successfully lobbied for the first step, since section 28, towards repeal of Scotland’s various anti-gay laws. I have been lucky to work with great people, then and in the decades since.

Mr Hanvey was not involved in running any of those campaigns. It is galling, therefore, to read his claim that the campaigns of those years have somehow been betrayed by trans equality campaigning now. The opposite is the case. Those of us who organised the campaigns of the 80s and 90s can see clearly that the lies told then about lesbians and gay men are being repeated now about trans people.

For example, Mr Hanvey claims that young lesbian and gay people are being pressured or manipulated into defining as trans instead. That is complete nonsense. It is a repeat of the 1990s lie that our campaigns to repeal Section 28 and equalise the gay age of consent at 16 were so that older gay men could “recruit” teenage boys and turn them gay.

The clear understanding that most LGB people have of the true nature of the anti-trans culture war is one reason why, for example, a recent poll found that 97% of lesbians under 25 support trans equality.

As an openly gay MP in the 2020s, Mr Hanvey has benefited from a ladder to equality built over decades, rung by rung, by generations of activists. It is disgraceful that now that he is reaching the top of that ladder, he is kicking down on the trans people who are still climbing it below him.

Tim Hopkins
Director, Equality Network

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