Yesterday, at the annual conference of the Scottish Green Party in the SECC, Glasgow, the SGP made two important and far-reaching policy commitments. The policy motions, on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI+) People and on LGBTI+ Health, passed unanimously in the first case and overwhelmingly in the latter. The policies commit the SGP to strengthening the protections for LGBTI+ people against discrimination in Scotland, and against medical abuses such as surgery without consent and discriminatory practises in blood donation.
Written by Anna Crow, current co-convenor of the SGP’s LGBTI+ representative group, the Rainbow greens, and by Dan Heap, one of the outgoing co-convenors, the policies acknowledge steps taken towards legal equality in Scotland including the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 but recognise that discrimination and inequality affecting LGBTI+ people in Scotland, particularly certain groups such as trans individuals still remains widespread, as shown by the Scottish LGBT Equality Report 2015.
The policies commit the SGP to protecting the right of all individuals to live free from harassment, discrimination or persecution relating to sexual orientation, gender identity or any lawful sexual activity between consenting adults and recognise that discrimination and inequality particularly affects certain groups within the LGBTI+ community, such as trans people, those with any minority gender identity, intersex people, and bisexual people.
The policies support equal treatment for LGBTI+ couples in issues such as adoption & parenting, immigration and asylum, financial services, work related benefits, pension rights, inheritance and medical treatment. They call for civil partnership to become open to all couples regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
The policies call for a legal duty on local authorities and public institutions to deliver effective services directly to the LGBTI+ community and for measures to tackle bullying of LGBTI+ individuals in schools and to ensure schools are inclusive of LGBTI+ pupils and staff. Specific strategies would address transphobia, biphobia and discrimination against intersex people and those with a minority gender identity.
Persecution on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity would be considered a legitimate basis for an asylum application. The party supports recognition of people who have neither male nor female identity on legal documents and the right of people to declare their gender identity on documents without having to seek confirmation from a third party such as a doctor or psychiatrist.
SGP’s new policy on LGBTI+ health expands dramatically the recognition that certain health issues and inequalities particularly affect Scotland’s LGBTI+ population, especially mental health issues among young people. It supports measures to improve support for these issues and also to address them at the source, for example in addressing bullying.
The policy calls for the banning of ‘reparative’ therapies meant to convert an LGBTI+ person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, and also to ban medical or surgical intervention on intersex children until they are able to give informed consent. It calls for a review of blood donation policy to one which takes a comprehensive and non-discriminatory risk-based approach, and for the extension of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to all young people.
Finally, the policy calls for healthcare and the NHS to empower trans people through the transition process and for a review of NHS services in consultation with trans people, working to ensure better access to appropriate specialist advice and treatment and a person-centred approach in all aspects of trans healthcare.
Overall these policy measures dramatically improve the support for LGBTI+ health, wellbeing, social inclusion and human rights. The SGP, in carrying the measures with overwhelming support in Conference, has proven itself again to be the most forward-looking party in Scotland in terms of social justice as in everything else. There will be a lot of work involved in implementing the measures called for in these policies, and they will need the support of a wide cross-party base in Holyrood. As the other co-convenor of the Rainbow Greens this year, I look forward to working to bring the policy commitments to reality.
Photo Credit: SGP Rainbow Greens Facebook Page