Scottish Parliament staff to be banned from wearing rainbow lanyards

Staff have been told wearing personalised badges and lanyards could make the public think they are biased

The Scottish Parliament is to ban its staff from wearing rainbow lanyards and badges.

Staff must all now wear only their purple parliament-issued lanyard at all times, as wearing personalised lanyards could make members of the public think they are biased.

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This comes after complaints women who were against the government’s gender reforms were having their lanyards and badges in the colours of the suffragettes removed by parliament staff.

Scottish Parliament staff are to be banned from wearing rainbow lanyards and badges.Scottish Parliament staff are to be banned from wearing rainbow lanyards and badges.
Scottish Parliament staff are to be banned from wearing rainbow lanyards and badges.

In an email to parliament staff, it said: “Wearing personalised lanyards and pins and badges showing support for social movements and towards campaigns or organisations has led some organisations and individuals to consider that staff cannot be impartial when supporting the parliament to debate government policy, proposed new laws and current significant societal issues.

“This decision will help to minimise the risk of perceived bias and avoid any perception that wearing such items may be influencing our decision-making.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament has since confirmed this includes rainbow lanyards, which typically indicate someone’s support for the LGBT+ community.

Conservative MSP Tess White said parliament staff “subjectively” taking lanyards off members of the public is leading to the “exclusion of women”.

Since parliament reopened to the public after the coronavirus lockdown, security staff have confiscated 26 items at the public entrance, including five badges.

Speaking during a debate while wearing a green, white and purple suffragette lanyard, she said: “From badges to suffrage colours, it seems parliamentary staff are with growing frequency subjectively enforcing the visitor code of conduct.

“It is one rule for some but not others.

“In the seat of Scottish democracy, the policy of so-called inclusion is leading to the exclusion of women.

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“This is a worrying and dangerous precedent which is unacceptable and must not continue.”

This new rule will come into effect on March 28, which is the last day before the Easter recess.

Staff will still be permitted to wear a badge displaying their pronouns, and can still wear poppy badges as Poppy Scotland is the only charity endorsed by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body.

Those wearing parliament-issued pins to indicate they are a first aider or Gaelic speaker can continue to do so, and staff can continue to wear badges showing membership of a recognised trade union.

Those who wear sunflower lanyards to indicate they have a hidden disability will still be allowed to wear them, but only if they also wear their purple parliament lanyard.

The email to staff said: “I appreciate his decision will be difficult for some colleagues but be assured that we remain committed to creating a culture where all people feel safe, valued, included, and able to be their best at work.

Parliamentary staff have been allowed to wear personalised lanyards since 2017 as part of Holyrood’s diversity and inclusion strategy.



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