Q&A: Colin MacFarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland

Q If you had the power to change one thing in Scotland what would it be?

Colin Macfarlane, Stonewall Scotland director. Picture: Contributed

A Far too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people still face daily bullying in school simply because of who they are. Far too many of our teachers – only 16%- have had any training on how to tackle this kind of bullying. 16 years since the abolition of Section 28 we can and must do so much better. So for me, it would be to ensure that every teacher in Scotland is trained to deal with LGBT issues with confidence so that every young person can be accepted without exception.

Q Scotland has growing number of openly gay leading politicians, including Tory leader Ruth Davidson. Will this change anything?

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A When I was growing up I never imagined we’d ever have any out politicians in Scotland. The power of visible role models can’t be underestimated especially to young LGBT people so it can only have a positive impact.

Q What’s missing from the Holyrood election campaign so far?

A It does all feel a bit stale at the moment and it’s definitely lacking some sort of oomph. Where is that big gaff? Where is that magic photo op? Where’s Ruth Davidson with a pair of bagpipes or a tank when you need her?

Q Is there one lesson Scotland can learn from elsewhere in the world on gay rights ?

A Scotland be proud on how far we’ve come in the last 30 years on LGBT rights, but there is still so much to do, especially on trans rights. We should be looking to Ireland and Malta on their progressive laws for trans people.

Q Does Holyrood or Westminster have the biggest influence on your working life?

A On a day to day basis definitely Holyrood. The key areas we work on such as education, health, local government, communities and justice are all devolved and our community engagement, campaigns and influencing work are all driven by what’s happening here in Scotland and in the Scottish Parliament.

Q If a politician had to do a normal job for a day, what would it be and why?

AIt’s probably a bit of boring answer but I’d say a teacher. Why? We hear a lot from politicians about education but do they truly understand what the job entails, the expectations placed on teachers and the wider challenges they and young people they teach face on a day to day basis.