Scottish politicians have voiced their disappointment at the UK Government’s rejection of the creation of a special Foreign Office envoy to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the world.
Responding to a Parliamentary Question from SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford, Foreign Office minister David Lidington said that the UK Government did not support the creation of such an envoy – and said creating a new post would be “ticking a box”.
Last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her support for an envoy – and said that a team of SNP MPs elected at the General Election would support the creation of such a post “to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the word, as an integral part of UK foreign policy”.
Commenting the announcement, Dr Whiteford said: “It is deeply disappointing that Foreign Office Minister David Lidington has rejected proposals for the creation of an LGBTI envoy.
“As the First Minister stated last month, there is cross-party support for an envoy – just as there is support for such a post in the United States – and the SNP is prepared to work across party boundaries to ensure the role is established. For Mr Lidington to refer to the role as a ‘ticking a box’ is extremely insulting.
“Too many LGBTI people in too many countries still face the most extreme forms of prejudice and hate – our voice must be one of those arguing and advocating for equality, tolerance and love.
“That is why a team of SNP MPs elected in May will continue to push the case for the establishment of a special envoy – a diplomatic post within the Foreign Office – to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the word, as an integral part of UK foreign policy.
“By voting for a strong team of SNP MPs in May, the people of Scotland can achieve change to deliver policies that are right for this country – and advance the cause of progressive policies across the UK.”
Alyn Smith MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and LGBTI Intergroup told KaleidoScot:
“While LGBTI people across the world suffer discrimination and prejudice the UK Government could and should do much more to promote equality. Scotland expects better from the services we pay for, and the SNP proposal for a specific LGBTI envoy would give some much needed focus to UK efforts.
“What should be an integral part of UK foreign policy was described as “ticking a box”. This is not how a government of a progressive society should approach this issue.
“Appointing of a special envoy to promote equal rights of LGBTI people is not about party politics. This is about our shared values and protecting those who suffer from discrimination. That’s why the SNP team in Westminster is prepared to work across political boundaries to secure this post after general election in May.”
The role of an LGBTI envoy was initially proposed by Labour leader Ed Miliband in March 2014.