Angela Constance vows to tackle hate at PinkNews summer reception in Edinburgh

Scottish Secretary for Equalities Angela Constance has vowed to “tackle the underlying attitudes and inequalities that continue to exist in society” at the PinkNews summer reception in Edinburgh, supported by Virgin Money and DLA Piper.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament in the country’s capital on Wednesday (June 20), the Scottish National Party cabinet minister paid tribute to the “tireless work” performed by activists, but said “there remains more to do.”

A cross-party group of Scottish politicians gathered at the second of many regional receptions held by PinkNews to debate LGBT+ topics from education to same-sex marriage.

Constance with Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen (Ashley Coombes)

Politicians and campaigners from across the political spectrum came together to hear Constance, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson and other prominent leaders speak on current LGBT+ issues, celebrate the achievements of Scotland’s LGBT+ community and highlight what is still to be done.

Constance, 47, told the attendees that despite having taken great strides towards equality – for instance by allowing men convicted under historical anti-gay laws to receive a pardon – there was still “work to do” for her country.

“I am clear that no-one should ever experience discrimination of prejudice in relation to their sexual orientation or their gender identity, and I am also clear that we have some distance yet to travel to ensure that the lived experience of LGBTI people matches the progress that we have made in law,” she said.

ADDIEWELL, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 01: Angela Constance MSP for Almond Valley launches her campaign to become the next leader of the SNP at Longlea Miner Welfare Club on October 1, 2014 in Addiewell, Scotland. Members of the party will take part in a postal vote to choose the new deputy leader, Ms Constance is competing against Transport Minister Keith Brown and SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Constance has tried to move Scotland forward in terms of LGBT rights (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

“We very strongly believe that until we live in a society where no one experiences hate, fear or discrimination because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity, there remains much, much more to do,” Constance continued.

“And that means that we tackle the underlying attitudes and inequalities that continue to exist in our society so that everyone is empowered to fulfil their potential.”

Last year, Constance, who has been Secretary for Equalities since 2016, revealed that the Scottish Government would consider reducing the age for legally changing your gender to 16 – and possibly even lower.

Constance and Davidson (Ashley Coombes)

Under new proposals, transgender people would also no longer be asked to provide medical proof that they deserve recognition for their new legal gender.

This would mean that trans citizens would no longer have to live for two years in a body which matches their true gender to be officially identified as that gender.

Constance said at the time that “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe – but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people.

“Both our Fairer Scotland action plan and this year’s programme for government commit to renewing the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

“This act was once considered ahead of its time but it now needs updating so we can ensure we are creating a fairer Scotland for those who are transgender and non-binary,” she added.

The announcement came just days after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “wholeheartedly apologised” for historical gay sex convictions in the country, leading an onlooker who was prosecuted for being gay to break down.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

On June 7, at the PinkNews summer reception in Cardiff, the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, championed inclusive sex and relationship education.

He told the audience: “Too often we just assume the LGBT community know politicians are on their side.”

“We’re going in the right direction but we are committed to going further. We want an education system based on equality.”