Scottish Labour leader uses PinkNews summer reception in Edinburgh to call for greater focus on LGBT+ rights abuses in Russia

The leader of the Scottish Labour Party Richard Leonard called for a renewed effort from LGBT+ allies in challenging discrimination and demanding equality at the PinkNews Summer Reception, which was supported by Virgin Money and DLA Piper.

In a brief but clear and impassioned speech in Edinburgh on June 20, Leonard said: “Tomorrow marks the 18th anniversary of the repeal of Section 28, which in turn reminds us that every generation has to fight some of same battles, so we all need to be vigilant and keep demanding equality.

“Just as women’s equality should not be fought by women alone, neither should LGBT rights: it’s for all of us to do that.”

Richard Leonard speaking in Edinburgh (Ashley Coombes)

Leonard went on to comment on the current challenges, violence and discrimination facing LGBT+ people in Russia, currently playing host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“The World Cup is currently taking place in Russia at the moment,” he said.

“And many people see that as a game of skill, entertainment and so on. But Russia is also a place where LGBT rights are under attack.

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

“So-called ‘gay propaganda’ has been outlawed, leading to a fourfold increase in the number of assaults. We can’t take things for granted: we need to keep making the case for equality and tolerance.”

Leonard also used his speech to call for everyone – LGBT+ people and allies alike- to support LGBT+ charities, saying: “We need to support organisations like TIE, the Rock Trust and Stonewall: organisations that provide practical help for people at the time they need it.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 04: Richard Leonard, leader of the Scottish Labour party, introduces his new deputy leader Lesley Laird during a speech on SNP cuts on June 4, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. During a speech in Candleriggs Richard Leonard laid out his plans for a radical vision for a better Scotland inside the UK, with anti-austerity Labour governments in power at Holyrood and Westminster. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Richard Leonard (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

He concluded his speech by saying: “It’s not enough to be accepted, it’s not enough to be tolerated, it’s about everybody being properly included,” a statement that got a loud round of applause from the gathered crowd.

The reception is part of a series of summer events taking place around the UK to highlight the importance of LGBT+ rights.

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - MARCH 10: Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard gives his keynote speech to delegates at the spring conference at the Caird Hall on March 10, 2018 in Dundee, Scotland. Richard Leonard proposed a "Mary Barbour law" to reform Scotland's private rented sector during his speech to delegates at the party spring conference. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Richard Leonard (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty)

Reception locations include London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The Edinburgh event featured politicians from the SNP, Labour, Green, and Liberal Democrat parties, as well as a keynote speech from Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson.