The first minister has promised another "leap forward" for equality
Nicola Sturgeon has revealed she plans to attack LGBTI discrimination in Scotland.
The first minister has unveiled a five pledge plan to tackle the scourge, should her party, as expected, be voted back in to government on 5 May.
Sturgeon’s plan includes all new teachers, as well as existing guidance teachers, having to undertake equality training so they are confident on tackling prejudice-based bullying.
Every other professional working with children will also be trained on equality.
The education system will also be changed to ensure children right throughout early years, primary and secondary education will be taught about tolerance, respect, human rights, equality and good citizenship to address and prevent prejudice.
The very fact that we are still having debates like this at election time just underlines that there is still much that we need to do
Gender recognition laws will be reformed to bring Scotland’s policy in line with international best practice and all police officers will receive appropriate training on the investigation of hate crime.
Speaking ahead of a hustings co-hosted by LGBT rights groups last night, Sturgeon said: “I’m proud that Scotland has made significant progress on LGBTI equality in recent years; however, the very fact that we are still having debates like this at election time just underlines that there is still much that we need to do.
“In particular I want to see a renewed focus on areas such as education – both for young people themselves, and those responsible for their emotional and educational wellbeing.
“Tolerance, respect, inclusion – these are attitudes and principles we want to encourage and foster in modern, fairer Scotland.
“Enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfil their potential.
“I am hopeful that in the next Scottish Parliament, we can build as much consensus on LGBTI issues as we did in this session – and take another leap forward for equality.”
Sturgeon’s proposals were widely accepted by the LGBTI community
Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, said: “We welcome these commitments from the SNP, which address some key concerns of LGBTI people, and we hope that the other parties will make strong pledges on LGBTI equality.”
James Morton, manager of the Scottish Transgender Alliance, said: “We are very pleased to see the SNP pledge to reform gender recognition law for all trans people, in line with international best practice. That would mean enabling people to change the gender on their birth certificate without intrusive medical diagnosis, recognising trans people as the experts on their own identities.
"It would allow young people to legally change their gender, with parents’ support if under 16. It would also mean the law recognising that some people have a non-binary gender, that is, they are neither men nor women.”
Nathan Gale, of Non-Binary Scotland, added: “By making a commitment to reform gender recognition law the Scottish Government is ensuring that all trans people, no-matter what their gender identity, will be able to be themselves, in all aspects of their lives.
“Trans people who don’t identify as men or women have just as much right to have the gender they identify as recognised and respected as everyone else. I hope that the next Scottish Government will truly aspire to international best practice and provide for a third gender, alongside male and female, to be recognised in Scottish law.”
However, Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), although welcoming Sturgeon’s comments and a commitment to work with its organisation to tackle homophobia in schools, is concerned the first minister didn’t go far enough.
A spokesperson for TIE said it wants specific LGBT+ teacher training, he added: “We are pleased that Nicola has agreed to work with us and we welcome her support.
“Her party’s current proposals do not go far enough and it is vital that the next strategy to tackle LGBT-phobia in Scottish schools is the right one - for too long we have dealt with a Section 28 hangover, the next Scottish Government must tackle this properly.”