Motion S5M-03713: LGBT History Month Scotland 2017 (Annie Wells MSP)
“That the Parliament celebrates and raises awareness of LGBT History Month Scotland 2017; notes that the nationwide event, which is coordinated by LGBT Youth Scotland, takes place in February each year and is aimed at promoting equality and diversity in society with the specific goals of increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their lives, history and experiences in educational, political and cultural institutions as well as the wider community; recognises the importance of raising awareness of the issues effecting LGBTI+ people so that every individual reaches their full potential and leads a fulfilling life, and notes that LGBT Youth Scotland is encourageing as many people as possible to get involved in the full programme of events, which will be delivered by a wide range of people, partners, community groups, schools, universities, colleges and local authorities.”
I thank Annie Wells for bringing today’s debate to the chamber to raise awareness of LGBT history month in Scotland. I also thank LGBT Youth Scotland for co-ordinating the incredible nationwide event.
Throughout history, minorities have had to fight for their rights. Women were given the right to vote only 88 years ago, the first legislation to address racial discrimination was passed only 50 years ago, and transgender people were able to change their legal gender only 12 years ago. What the suffragists, the abolitionists and the LGBT movement all have in common is that they have struggled to obtain the same rights as those of us who are members of the majority, and who automatically enjoy basic human rights due to our gender, sexual orientation or race. Those basic rights are the right to choose whom we want to marry, the right to change our gender legally, the right to adopt a child, the right to join the military, the right to serve openly in politics, the right to employment equality and opportunity and—most important—the right to love whomever we want to love, the right to look however we want to look and the right to be whomever we want to be.
That is why we celebrate LGBT history month. We acknowledge those who have not had it easy: those whose rights have been taken away from them by their own Government simply because they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; those who feel as if they were born in the wrong body; and those who have been exposed to violence and trauma because of who they are. We recognise not only our own LGBT community, but those in other countries and societies who still live under a law in which being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is punishable by death. Most important is that we recognise that every individual can and should reach their full potential and lead a fulfilling life regardless of gender or sexual preference.
As a country, we have made immense progress. On a national level, the UK holds the world record for having the most LGBT members in Parliament, and I am proud to say that Scotland is recognised as the best country in Europe for LGBT legal equality. Scotland now meets 92 per cent of the criteria, compared with 86 per cent for the UK as a whole. I truly believe that that is the result of this Government’s willingness to communicate properly with the LGBTI community.
In my constituency, the “flavours of Fife” LGBT youth group is open to young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and their friends and supporters. NHS Fife offers advice and support services to point LGBT youth in the right direction for health services. The mood cafe in Kirkcaldy promotes mental health and national helplines for the local community. Such services make Scotland the most progressive country in Europe for LGBT rights.
Scotland—a country whose leaders are open about their sexuality—has a duty as Europe’s most progressive country for LGBTI equality to set an example to the rest of the world. However, Scotland still has room to improve and there is much more to do to achieve full equality for people in Scotland. It is important to note that changes in the law are not always reflected in everyday life. LGBTI people in Scotland and around the UK still face unacceptable levels of discrimination and disadvantage every day.
With my fellow MSPs—there has been crossparty support for the motion—I pledge to support fully the events of LGBT history month in Scotland, and I encourage colleagues to attend as many events as possible in order to raise awareness of the issues that the LGBTI community faces.
I thank Annie Wells again for securing today’s debate, and LGBT Youth Scotland for its efforts in promoting equality and diversity in our society.
Link to the Scottish Parliament Official Report.