Friday , 20 September 2019

Manifesto watch: Where do the Scottish Lib Dems stand on LGBTI issues?

Willie Rennie
Willie Rennie: “I think our agenda actually fits with the modern public mood in Scotland”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats launched their manifesto, Be The Best Again, last week.

The party’s flagship policies, including the proposals for a “penny for education” and “putting democracy back into policing”, have sparked some online discussion in recent days.

The manifesto was launched at an Edinburgh soft play centre, perhaps to emphasise the party’s ambitions to “revolutionise” education and nursery provision.

manifestoAt a time in which LGBTI issues are taking centre stage rather than simply being of peripheral interest to voters – and given the development of a broad consensus on many of the key issues between the main parties – it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Scottish Lib Dems have made some positive commitments on LGBTI equality.

On gender recognition, the party has called for overdue reform of the Gender Recognition Act “to bring it into line with international good practice in recognising the gender identity of trans people, including consideration of the medical requirements placed on applicants, and recognise the gender identity of non-binary people.”

Be The Best Again also recognises that much more must be done to challenge orientation and gender based bullying. The Scottish Liberal Democrats are looking to “tackle bullying, act on hate crime and add to the training of frontline professionals so they can always provide equal services for diverse groups of people.” In relation to bullying in schools, they hope discrimination and bullying can be successfully combated by “working with teachers and schools to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and asking local authorities to record such behaviour” as well as through a new system of inclusive education. The manifesto states that the Scottish Liberal Democrats will seek to implement “effective training of school staff to support LGBTI young people in schools, and make sure sexual health, parenthood and relationships education is LGBTI inclusive in all schools.”

Willie Rennie’s party has also condemns “any form of ‘gay cure’ therapy in Scotland” and wants to see “further steps…taken to make the practice unavailable in Scotland”.

On health, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have reiterated their commitment to “end[ing] the blood ban for gay men, replacing it with risk-based criteria for all potential donors” and have also stated their support for providing “access to pre-exposure PrEP treatment for those most vulnerable to HIV transmission”.

In relation to international matters, the party believes that “our liberal values, not least human rights, LGBTI equality and sustainable development, will guide our work internationally”.

While not specifically relating to LGBTI issues, the party also makes strong commitments in relation to “shaping services [that] respond to people” (page 19), reforming drug law (page 13), decriminalising sex work (page 21) and “transforming mental health” (page 11) – the latter being something that continues to affect a disproportionate number of LGBTI people in Scotland.

Speaking about the manifesto at its launch, Mr Rennie said: “I think our agenda actually fits with the modern public mood in Scotland. I think people are much more relaxed about these issues – they see the value of long-term plans… We are not reckless on these things. We want to try and help people and that’s why having a longer term liberal approach to things, I think, chimes with people in Scotland now.”

About Andrew Page

Andrew Page
Andrew is KaleidoScot's sports editor and photographer. An experienced blogger, Andrew was raised in the Hebrides and currently lives in Renfrewshire. Andrew became an active equality campaigner at the time of the Section 28 debate, and has particular interests in faith issues and promoting LGBTI equality in sport. Andrew was shortlisted for the Icon Award's 2015 Journalist of the Year.

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5 comments

  1. I hope the LibDems have finally dropped Gordon MacDonald from their candidate lists. He is closely associated with CARE, the organization which, despite its nice-sounding title, actually seeks to infiltrate one particular kind of Christian teaching into law and practice–not the sort of Christian teaching which looks kindly on gay people. He was a central figure in the campaign against same-sex marriage and also in that against assisted suicide. He wrote a piece in The Herald demanding a legal guarantee that organizations in receipt of public money for things like food banks could still campaign against same-sex marriage. When a LibDem councillor in East Dunbartonshire he tried to get the local council to refuse civil partnership ceremonies and would, had he succeeded, have ruined the happiest day of my life. (I understand he was in a minority of one.) He was the LibDems’ Holyrood candidate in East Dunbartonshire in 2011 but, happily, is not this time., I hope he hasn’t popped up elsewhere.

    • Andrew Page

      None of that surprises me, unfortunately.

      Why would food banks want to take up a position on same-sex marriage anyway???

      Gordon Macdonald is certainly not standing in the regional lists for the Lib Dems, as he has in the past. I also don’t think he’s standing as a constituency candidate. I’m not sure what the reasons are.

      Aside from that, I can’t say much else…I’m not sure what he’s doing now although he is still associated with CARE and SOLAS.

      • “Why would food banks want to take up a position on same-sex marriage anyway???”

        It would be an occasion for some sorts of Christians to express disapproval of gay couples and even seek to undermine them by, for instance, refusing to register them as a household.

        If the Bulls, who ran a boarding house where they wouldn’t let a gay couple share a bed, got translated to the management of an emergency shelter, would they be happy to accommodate a gay couple as a couple?

        • PS Or it could be a matter of so-called conscience. I seem to recall there was a nurse in Glasgow a couple of decades ago who demanded an exemption on grounds of conscience from treating a gay partner as next-of-kin.

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