Q If you had the power to change one thing in Scotland what would it be?
A The Equality Network aims to help the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people right across Scotland to be heard by policy-makers. If I could change one thing, it would be to find a way for all kinds of people’s voices to be heard better by decision makers at all levels.
Q Scotland has growing number of openly gay politicians, including Tory leader Ruth Davidson. Will this change anything?
A At the recent party leaders’ LGBTI Hustings, Ruth spoke about the letters that she has received from young LGB people, writing how much it has helped them to see a straightforwardly openly lesbian party leader. It gives some confidence that being LGB need not hold you back. Having said that, Scotland has not yet seen an openly trans or intersex politician at any level.
Q What’s missing from the Holyrood election campaign so far?
A In celebrating progress, it’s really important not to lose sight of the fact that the majority of LGBTI people still experience discrimination, prejudice and abuse, even though it’s only a minority who are perpetrating it. For most people of course, not just LGBTI people, Scotland is far from a utopia of fairness. We can’t have too much discussion of the inequalities that still persist across society.
Q Is there one lesson Scotland can learn from elsewhere in the world on gay rights ?
A I think we should be humbled by the dedication of LGBTI equality activists in many other countries around the world. Their courage, in the face of threatened and actual imprisonment, violence, and murder, is an inspiration to work harder here where things are easier, and also to offer them the help they ask of us.
Q Does Holyrood or Westminster have the biggest influence on your working life?
A Without a doubt, Holyrood. There is rightly a focus on how the Scottish Parliament could be improved. But devolution has brought decisions closer to the people of Scotland than previously. The often criticised committee system can, when it works well as it did with the equal marriage bill, do a lot better than Westminster when it comes to getting legislation right.