Scottish political leaders have argued that the parliament must advance LGBTI equality, in the wake of shootings at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
During topical questions in the chamber yesterday, commitments to advancing LGBTI inclusion in education and tackling hate crime against LGBTI people were affirmed, after MSPs held a minute’s silence for the victims of the incident.
Patrick Harvie, the co-convener of the Scottish Green Party, questioned First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on her plans to tackle homophobia in Scottish schools. The First Minister had lent her support to the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign, which is calling for teaching staff to be trained in how to discuss LGBTI issues in the classroom, during this year’s parliamentary election.
He said: “There are, sadly, still people – including young people – subjected to the ideology that says certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inherent moral defects.
“The First Minister has described herself as a huge supporter of the TIE campaign – how long will it be before all schools in Scotland actively promote the equality and dignity of all of their young people, including LGBTI young people?”
Responding, Ms Sturgeon expressed caution over placing a timescale on the proposals to implement a strategy, but reaffirmed her commitment to supporting TIE’s campaign and assured MSPs that the Scottish Government would continue to work with campaigners on the issues.
She stated: “I don’t want to live in a country, yet alone be First Minister of a country, where any young person has to feel that, somehow, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are subject to judgement or made to feel in any way less than any other individual in our society. I have given a commitment to working with the campaign for inclusive education.
“The Scottish Government will continue to work to ensure that, whether it’s in a school or any other part of our society, the environment for any young people growing up – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – is one in which they feel comfortable.”
Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, acknowledged that all parties in Holyrood shared some common policies on LGBTI equality, and argued that they should be advanced with some urgency in the aftermath of the events in Orlando.
He said: “One of the most powerful signals that we could send in this context is to accelerate our programmes on equality for all of the LGBTI community. We all have common programmes which we want to deliver in this parliament, so let’s use this to accelerate those programmes so that we can send the strongest possible signal to these terrorists that we will not be intimidated.”
The First Minister agreed with the sentiment, and also encouraged MSPs to attend Scotland’s Pride parades later this year, to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the LGBTI community.
Earlier this week, several hundred people attended a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Glasgow, mirroring the displays of solidarity that took place in streets across the globe.