“Scotland used to be a leader in LGBTI equality – it is not anymore”

BY NADIA DAVIES

A group of Scotland’s national LGBTI equality organisations have a manifesto for equality, ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May. 

Stonewall Scotland, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland and Scottish Trans Alliance, alongside partners LGBT Health and Wellbeing, LEAP Sports Scotland, Time for Inclusive Education, and iCON UK, are uniting to call on the next Scottish Government to further commit to improving the lives of LGBTI people in Scotland.

The manifesto calls for specific actions to end the discrimination and barriers that are still faced by LGBTI people, noting experiences of inadequate health services, hate crime, and the threat of so-called “conversion therapy”. 

As well as acknowledging the specific needs of further marginalised groups such as LGBTI refugees and older people, the document also highlights areas where trans people face particular disadvantage, including waiting times of years for referral to gender identity services, and barriers to legal recognition of their gender identity.

Jacqueline, a trans woman from Renfrewshire is just one of those people. Sharing her story, she explains: “After many years of struggling with dysphoria, and depression as a result, I finally decided to take the step and transition last September. I was more than disappointed to find that I was on a waiting list on which I would not even get a first appointment for at the very least two years. 

“Although (for a number of reasons – family, circumstances, mental health) I waited until later in life to transition, I find that my gender dysphoria has increased and that I could not have continued as I was. I am growing increasingly anxious over this as I feel I have only so many years life left to me to, for the first time, enjoy a real quality of life at last.”

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Coordinator at Equality Network, said: “Scotland used to be a leader in LGBTI equality. It is not anymore. We want Scotland to lead the way again, and to stand up, wholeheartedly, for LGBTI equality in all aspects of Scottish life. 

“Our community is still struggling, poor mental health is rising exponentially, the pandemic has only made this worse, and it’s about time structural inequalities are dealt with once and for all.”

Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Alliance manager, added: “The last few years of sustained media spotlight and political debate on trans people’s lives has left many of us feeling like things are going backwards. Coronavirus has affected us all, but it has plunged trans people’s healthcare into an even deeper crisis – people already expecting to wait two years for a first appointment will now wait even longer. 

“We desperately need the next Scottish Parliament to unite behind the idea that everyone in Scotland deserves to live happy, healthy lives – and to work with us to make this a reality.”

You can read the manifesto online at equality-network.org.

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