Gay Scots still facing prejudice and inequality

Gay Scots still face widespread prejudice in their everyday lives. Picture: Jane Barlow
Gay Scots still face widespread prejudice in their everyday lives. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Gay Scots still face widespread prejudice going about their everyday lives, a major new report today reveals.

The discrimination ranges from homophobic attitudes and comments to violent acts of physical or sexual abuse, according to the Scottish LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality report today.

Despite major advances in recent years such as civil partnerships and the introduction of gay marriage last year, a majority of LGBT people are still wary of being open about their sexual identity with their family or when at work.

The Scottish Government is now being urged to publish an LGBT equality and human rights strategy and action plan, against which progress can be measured.

Tom French, of the Equality Network, which published today’s report, says it reveals the “stark reality of the prejudice, discrimination and other forms of disadvantage” that LGBT people continue to face in Scotland.

He said: “It is clear that while we have made welcome progress in recent years, there is still much more to do before LGBT people will experience real equality in their day-to-day lives.

“The scale of the challenge is considerable and with the next Scottish Parliament election rapidly approaching, we will be looking to the Scottish Government, and all the political parties, to set out clear plans for how they will tackle inequality and make Scotland a fairer and more equal place for LGBT people to live.”

The Equality Network says it will now be calling on all Scotland’s political parties to set out firm manifesto commitments on LGBT equality ahead of the next Scottish Parliament elections in May.

Nine out of ten people said that LGBT people continue to face inequality in Scotland, while almost all said more needs to be done to tackle prejudice and discrimination. The Scottish Government, councils and public services are seen as having lead responsibility for tackling this.

The report is based around the views of more than 1,000 people, of whom 34 per cent were gay men, 22 per cent were gay women, and 15 per cent were bisexual.

It was conducted between 2012 and 2013. The experiences of LGBT people vary significantly across Scotland, with those living in rural parts of the country reporting a significantly worse experience than those living in urban areas.

Incidents reported by LGBT people ranged from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic comments and attitudes (82 per cent), to verbal abuse (68 per cent), physical attack (16 per cent) sexual assault (7 per cent), crimes against property (12 per cent), and discriminatory treatment when accessing services (25 per cent) and in employment (24 per cent).

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Despite the significant progress made in relation to LGBT equality, particularly in recent years, we are aware of the inequality still facing LGBT people and communities today. There is no place for any homophobic, biphobic or transphobic prejudice or discrimination in modern day Scotland or anywhere else.”

She added: “This government is one committed to promoting a more equal society which values Scotland’s diverse communities and the important role they play in enriching Scotland socially, culturally and economically.”