Gay groups present report at Edinburgh Castle reception

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The LGBT Hearts and Minds Agenda Group has presented a copy of their report into challenging prejudice at a special ministerial reception held yesterday evening at Edinburgh Castle.

Communities and Sport Minister Stewart Maxwell hosted the event which also marked LGBT History Month.

The Hearts and Minds Agenda Group is facilitated by the Scottish Government Equality Unit and is made up of representatives from three national LGBT organisations: Equality Network, Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Youth Scotland, and representatives from other LGBT community organisations.

Its report, Challenging Prejudice: Changing Attitudes Towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Scotland, details recommendations for the Scottish government and other organisations on action they could take to change attitudes towards LGBT people.

“LGBT people are estimated to make up around 5% of the population of Scotland, around 250,000 people across all parts of society,” the group said.

“We are young and old, we are parents, we are single, in relationships, married or in civil partnerships, we are disabled people, we are school and college students, we are workers, we are religious and non-religious, we are of all ethnicities.

“Like everyone else, we contribute to Scotland’s wealth, culture, society and future.”

Patrick Stoakes, director of Equality Network, said:

“We are happy to present this report to the minister. We believe we have identified practical ways to reduce prejudice, and to move closer to a Scotland which truly respects diversity.

“We hope that the government and other partners will welcome the recommendations, and we look forward to working together to take them forward.”

The report recommends that the Scottish Government encourages public services to take part in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, and the Diversity Champions programme.

It also encourages the Scottish government to encourage public bodies to implement a six strand equality duty including sexual orientation.

Currently, public services have to fulfil an equality duty on disability, gender, and race, but not on sexual orientation, age, or religion or belief.

Calum Irving, director of Stonewall Scotland, said:

“Although attitudes towards LGBT people in Scotland are improving there are still persistent areas of discrimination.

“Too often at work and when using public services we still face prejudice and discrimination.

“Perhaps that’s why half of all gay people in Edinburgh still feel they can’t be out at work.

“We’re pleased that the report faces these problems head on, that it strongly recommends that Scottish employers do more to tackle homophobia in the workplace, and that it calls on the Scottish government to ask public services to treat tackling homophobia with the same importance as racism or any other discrimination issue.”

Communities and Sport Minister Stewart Maxwell said:

“I am delighted to hold this reception to celebrate LGBT History Month.

“The Scottish government is committed to equality and inclusion for everyone and this annual programme of events allows us to reflect on the achievements of LGBT people and the huge contribution they make to all aspects of our society.

“This government believes that a successful Scotland must be open, fair and inclusive and provide equal opportunity and choice for all its people.

“I welcome the report from the LGBT Hearts and Minds Group.

“I will consider their recommendations on how we can tackle discrimination and prejudice, and work together to enable all our citizens to achieve their full potential and share in Scotland’s prosperity.”

To read the full report click here.