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LGBT+ charities call for commitments from First Minister candidates

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The groups have asked those running to back existing promises of the Scottish Government. 

Leading LGBT+ charities in Scotland have called on the candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader to back existing commitments on equality. 

A letter published by the Equality Network and others calls on MSPs Kate Forbes, Ash Regan Humza Yousaf to ask that they commit to honouring existing Scottish Government commitments to improve LGBT+ people’s lives, and to continue progressing LGBT+ equality.

The three candidates to be the next First Minister have been asked to support five existing commitments of the Scottish Government. 

These are to honour the Scottish Government’s commitment to ban conversion practices through a bill introduced this year, and keeping the GRR Bill on the Parliament’s books, and commit to seeking the revocation of the section 35 order whether via the courts or by agreement with the next UK Government.

Tim Hopkins, director of Equality Network said: “We appreciate that there will be many issues for the next First Minister to deal with. 

“As LGBT+ organisations, our concern is that the existing commitments by the Scottish Government, which value and support Scotland’s LGBT+ people, will be continued by the new First Minister. 

“Will the candidates confirm that, or is there a risk that those commitments will be dropped?”

The groups would also like to back the Scottish Government’s commitment to improve the health of LGBT+ people, show leadership on improving attitudes towards LGBT+ people, and continue work on implementing LGBT-inclusive education. 

Dr Rebecca Crowther, Policy Co-ordinator at Equality Network said: “Scotland deserves a leader who will continue pushing for equality and human rights in all aspects of life. We need a leader who will do everything they can to ensure we are all free from harm and to be who we are. 

“We must see our humanity and human rights reflected in legislation; they must challenge section 35, and deliver gender recognition reform, we must push for better accessible healthcare, tackle rising hate crime and, we must finally end harmful conversion practices that have devastating long term effects. 

“We need a First Minister who has the strength of leadership, and the willing, to achieve all of this.”

The calls have been backed by Scottish Trans, LEAP Sports Scotland, LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing. 

Vic Valentine, Manager of Scottish Trans said: “While for now this might be a contest about who leads the SNP, ultimately whoever is successful will go on to lead the country. LGBT+ people are a part of Scotland’s communities, and trans people are your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. 

“It is absolutely vital that the future First Minister takes decisions in the interests of everyone, and rather than seeing protecting and improving trans people’s lives and rights as an optional add-on, understands that doing so is a small but important part of leading a Scotland in which everyone can thrive.”