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.
At 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.”