The Scottish Parliament’s journey towards equality is far from complete, writes co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie.
I left for university in Manchester but just ten years later I was an LGBT youth worker back in Glasgow, and I encountered shock and puzzlement from young people growing up without even knowing that same-sex relationships had ever been criminalised.
Yet past progress is never guaranteed; setbacks can happen too. So the First Minister’s apology, echoed by opposition parties, represents more than just one important moment. It represents a shared commitment to continue the journey.
There are those who won’t welcome this. Some because they think an apology by one generation for the immoral acts which preceded it is meaningless, others because they simply never made that journey with the rest of society, toward the abandonment of prejudice. Discrimination and bigotry persist in our workplaces, schools, media and politics.
We still give such attitudes too much room. We still make euphemistic excuses like “matter of conscience” for those who oppose equality. Most political parties still select them for public office, to pass laws which are supposed to serve us all.
We still make too many excuses for those who even now cannot accept that same-sex relationships are equal, and that the laws against them were morally wrong.
So while the cross party consensus from the leaders at Holyrood was moving, it mustn’t let us rest on our laurels. The journey toward equality is far from complete.
l Patrick Harvie, co-convener of the Scottish Green Party