Tim Hopkins, the director of the Equality Network was today awarded an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh in recognition of his decades of work advancing LGBTI equality in Scotland.
Hopkins, who was awarded the honorary doctoral degree (Doctor honoris causa) in a ceremony this morning at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, has been campaigning for LGBTI equality in Scotland for almost thirty years.
As a lecturer and postgraduate student in Edinburgh during the 1980s he helped organise the UK’s first demonstration against section 28, before helping organise Scotland’s first pride march in 1995, and then becoming a founding member of the Equality Network in 1997.
Hopkins has played an instrumental role in securing most major steps towards LGBTI equality in Scotland, from the repeal of section 28 in 2000 to the introduction of Scotland’s progressive hate crime and equal marriage laws in more recent years.
In her Laureation Vice-Principal Professor Jane Norman, who sponsored the honorary degree, described Tim Hopkins as a ‘tireless’ campaigner for LGBTI equality and said: “In recent years Scotland has become a leading light on LGBTI equality, with Scotland being recognized as the ‘best country in Europe for LGBTI legal equality’ by the Rainbow Europe Index in 2015.
“The Scotland of the mid 1980s was however, very different. It seems astonishing to remember now, but laws prohibiting same sex sexual activity were only repealed in Scotland in 1980… Under the directorship of Tim Hopkins, the Equality Network has campaigned actively and effectively for LGBTI equality… Regardless of our gender or sexual orientation, we have all in Scotland benefitted from having such a committed and dedicated equality campaigner as Tim Hopkins.”
Tim Hopkins thanked the Laureation by the University saying: “Growing up as a gay teenager in the 1970s, the world was very different from today. But I hoped then that it might change, and I count myself very privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved, alongside many others, in some of the campaigns for that change.
“Changing the law is important, but it’s not in itself equality. We will perhaps be close to equality when same-sex couples can feel comfortable holding hands together anywhere in Scotland. We’re not there yet, but I believe we will get there. There have been huge changes in public opinion on these issues in recent years, and that change is continuing.
“So I want to say thank you to everyone, and there are many, who have changed their minds on issues like same-sex marriage. And in particular I want to thank everyone who helped others change their minds, by having the courage, and it still can take courage, to say this is who I am and I’m proud of it. It is people doing that that has really changed the world and allowed groups like the Equality Network to do what we do. Thank you.”
The Equality Network’s staff was joined in congratulating Hopkins, by John Hein, fellow veteran LGBTI rights campaigner and Pastor Best OPI of The Order of Perpetual Indulgence.
He told KaleidoScot: “The Convent of Dunn Eideann congratulates Saint Tim of the Incredibly Long Latin Name None of Us Can Remember on his Doctorate honoris causa”. The Order of Perpetual Indulgence canonised Hopkins back in June 1999 in recognition of his campaigning for LGBTI equality in Scotland.