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Flying The Flag for international human rights

This opinion piece is over 8 years old

Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott from Glasgow are equal marriage campaigners and were the first gay couple to be married in Scotland

Human rights have an image problem. They’re often taken for granted, misunderstood and misrepresented by the press and public.

Today (Thursday, 10 December) marks the 65th International Human Rights Day which is a timely reminder to think about the benefits, freedoms and protections that rights offer us. They are for everyone, and should be protected at all costs.

But many of us don’t know much about the rights themselves, and without that knowledge it can be hard for us to reaffirm and protect them.

Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott

Although there is some way to go before many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel truly equal in Scotland, the change in law demonstrated fairness and equality

Susan and Gerrie Douglas-Scott

Recent research reveals that one in five people (22%) think that human rights are designed to protect minority groups, rather than everybody. There is also limited understanding of how relevant human rights are, with over two in five people (44%) believing they have little bearing on their everyday life.

At the end of last month, five days after the terrible tragedy in Paris on Friday, 10 November, we took part in the launch of the Scottish Government’s #FlyTheFlag for your human rights campaign.

It sets out to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits and relevance of human rights for everyone, with a view to empower more Scots to claim their rights if they have been breached.

It was a special day as it reminded us of our own milestone moment when we were the first lesbian couple to have a legal marriage ceremony in Scotland.

We had a civil partnership in March 2006 but once a new law on equal marriage came into effect in Scotland on 16 December 2014, we decided to convert it through to a full marriage on Hogmanay 2014.

It was a joyous moment as we tied the knot at a ceremony in private in front of close friends and family with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie MSP as witnesses.

It was an incredible experience that we’ll never forget. After 18 years together as a loving couple, our relationship had finally been given the same recognition in law and society as all other married couples.

It was an amazing chapter in our country’s history which we’re very proud of. We are both humanist celebrants and have married many hundreds of people over the last few years so we know how special it is.

Although there is some way to go before many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel truly equal in Scotland, the change in law demonstrated fairness and equality.

The #FlyTheFlag campaign reminds us that human rights apply to everyone. They allow you to voice your opinion, celebrate your beliefs and to marry among many others.

In Scotland we are fortunate to have access to our human rights every day. Simply by walking down the street, chatting to our friends or going to work we are flying the flag for human rights.

Today, the human rights campaign flag will fly from St Andrews House in Edinburgh in recognition and celebration of the rights we all share. And on social media over 1000 people have shown their support for their rights by changing their profile pictures.

We’re proud to being doing our bit to help raise awareness of this important issue.

Comment: Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network

Human rights include the right to a family life without discrimination. For manycouples and families marriage is a very important form of commitment,recognition and legal protection. Families like Susan and Gerrie’s werepreviously excluded from marriage, and it is great that that discrimination hasnow ended, as part of Scotland’s commitment to defend everyone’s human rights.



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Gerrie Douglas-Scott
over 8 years ago
We are proud to say out loud and proud that YOU have the right to be who you are. As Gandhi said 'be the change you want to see'
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