Scotland can be a fairer and more equal country under independence, argues the Yes campaign as they launched the ‘Rainbow Paper’ setting out a vision for LGBTI people.
Described as “a unique opportunity to be a leading force for equality around the world”, equality campaigners have been setting out some of the reasons people should vote Yes on 18th September.
The group has announced on Monday 7 key policy areas which are expected to reflect Scots values at home and abroad. Domestically, the focus is on improving current legislation and taking control of spending, allowing for investment in anti-bullying and hate crime projects. The paper also highlights:
- LGBTI rights would be fully enshrined in a written constitution (one of only 8 countries in the world to have taken this step)
- Full control over gender recognition, acknowledging transgender and intersex people in existing legislative gaps
- The need to strengthen harassment laws where sexual orientation is the aggravating factor
- Equal pension provisions for same-sex couples would be made compulsory for private pension providers
The pro-independence side consistently argues that Scotland has always taken a more progressive route on LGBTI equality through the Edinburgh-based Parliament than its London equivalent, and that independence is the only real option to complete the journey.
Patrick Harvie MSP, the openly bisexual Co-Convener of the Scottish Greens, said “Scotland has changed. Once a country which held out for years against decriminalisation of male same-sex relationships, we are now a country which gave equal marriage the third biggest majority of any country in the world. We should be proud of that progress, and unafraid of taking responsibility for all the decisions about our country’s future.”
Internationally, an ambition of becoming “a beacon of hope” to those under persecution due to their sexuality is the message from Yes LGBT. Key to achieving this aim is full control over foreign affairs so Scotland can take the fight for equality direct to some of the 77 countries which still criminalise and persecute LGBTI people. They also argue that control of asylum policy is needed, creating a compassionate system that offers protection to those facing hatred abroad, in stark contrast to the degrading treatment they face from the Westminster system, they say.
Stewart McDonald, Co-Convener of Yes LGBT added: ‘This paper leaves no doubt that our campaign is at the heart of the progressive Yes movement. All we’re getting from No, however, are threats to scrap the Human Rights Act but we need more answers. What will Westminster do to reform the asylum system? What is being done to promote LGBT equality abroad when 42 Commonwealth countries still criminalise gay relationships?”
Better Together, the campaign which wants to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, argues that with a network of over 270 UK embassies and consulates around the world, Scotland is already influencing change. But with a pledge from the Scottish Government of funding its own network of embassies, the independence side claim its a case of “simple maths” that more embassies will lead to a louder voice on equality for LGBTI people where it doesnt exist at the moment.
Also attending the Paper launch was Nancy Clench, “Scotland’s Biggest Drag Queen”, who said, “A uniquely Scottish voice can help influence change around the world, for example in Malawi where we already have strong relationships. Talking with governments like this help us advance the cause for LGBTI equality.”
Last month Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell outlined a vision for full LGBTI equality in and independent Scotland, saying if he were Scottish he would vote Yes.
The Rainbow Paper is available to download by clicking this link: