Scottish Parliament election: what the manifestos say on LGBTI equality | Scotland
Log in
What you can do
Scottish Parliament building

Scottish Parliament election: what the manifestos say on LGBTI equality

All of the main political parties have now published their manifestos for the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May and we’ve taken a look at what they have to say on LGBTI equality.

While there’s been significant progress on LGBT equality in the first two decades of the Scottish Parliament, recent years have been challenging for many LGBTI people – with hate crimes rising, waiting times for gender identity services continuing to increase alarmingly, mental health inequalities persisting, and ongoing toxic debates about LGBTI identities. That’s why it’s so important that political parties make firm commitments to improve LGBTI people’s lives.

We’re really pleased to have seen some strong commitments across the board, with LGBTI equality remaining firmly on the agenda. This includes commitments from multiple parties on improving access to gender identity services, reforming the Gender Recognition Act, ending conversion therapy, and continuing to implement LGBT inclusive education, among others.

These are among the issues that we’ve highlighted as priorities in our own LGBTI Equality Manifesto, which we co-developed with our partners at Equality Network, Scottish Trans Alliance, and LGBT Youth Scotland.

So, what do the parties have to say on LGBTI equality? Click through the tabs below to read a run-down of each party’s main manifesto commitments on key areas of LGBTI equality. The parties are listed in the order of which their manifestos were published.

It’s important to remember that the manifestos set out the parties’ flagship policies – just because a party hasn’t made a specific manifesto commitment, doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t support it. All parties will also have policies on a whole range of other issues, so we’ve included links to their full manifestos at the bottom.

We also want to see as many MSPs as possible in the next Scottish Parliament committed to LGBTI equality. Make your voice heard and ask your candidates to sign our LGBTI Equality Pledge, using our quick and easy online tool. It can really make a difference.

What the manifestos say

Gender identity services

The Scottish Greens will “introduce an informed consent model of trans healthcare, and in the meantime continue to push for access to Gender Identity Clinics within 18 weeks, in line with NHS standards for other services.”

The SNP said “we are aware of the urgent need to improve access to NHS Gender Identity Services. We will take action by committing to three years of centralised crisis intervention funding to improve care, support and services. We will work with people with lived experience to explore how this is best delivered, including improving community provision.”

The Scottish Lib Dems did not make any specific commitments on gender identity services in their manifesto.

The Scottish Conservatives did not make any specific commitments on gender identity services in their manifesto.

Scottish Labour said “we recognise the concerns highlighting discrimination and unequal treatment for people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 when accessing health services. Scottish Labour will bring Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) into line with other NHS services by setting an 18-week referral to first appointment target. We will also guarantee the right to self-refer to GICs under all health boards. We will introduce new guidance to prevent harmful stereotyping, establish an inquiry to explore an ‘informed consent’ model of treatment and will update the Gender Reassignment Protocol to allow for greater flexibility in treatment.”

Gender recognition

The Scottish Greens will “deliver long overdue reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, including statutory self-declaration, recognising non-binary identities and all genders, and providing access to health care for trans minors with parental or guardian consent.”

The SNP said “in the next parliament we will work with trans people, women, equality groups, legal and human rights experts to identify the best and most effective way to improve and simplify the process by which a trans person can obtain legal recognition, so that the trauma associated with that process is reduced. We remain committed to making necessary changes to the Gender Recognition Act that arise from this work at the earliest opportunity. We will ensure that these changes do not affect the rights or protections that women currently have under the Equality Act.”

The Scottish Lib Dems will “improve laws on gender recognition in line with international best practice to allow trans people to change the legal gender on their birth certificate with a simple process based on the principle of self-determination, and without intrusive medical diagnosis requirements, and include the recognition of non-binary people. This de-medicalised system to change legal gender will better support trans people to live their lives free from discrimination.”

The Scottish Conservatives did not make any specific commitments on gender recognition in their manifesto.

Scottish Labour will “reform the Gender Recognition Act to demedicalise the process and allow for the recognition of people who identify as neither men nor women.”

Conversion therapy

The Scottish Greens will “ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’, which refers to unethical and unnecessary interventions that seek to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT+ people or alter a person’s sex characteristics without their consent.”

The SNP said “there is no place for conversion therapy in Scotland. Such practices are discriminatory and harmful to the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people. The UK Government made a commitment to ban conversion therapy in their LGBT Action Plan, and we fully support this, as we know making a ban fully comprehensive will involve action in reserved areas. However, if the UK Government does not take action, we will bring forward our own legislation insofar as is possible within the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Lib Dems will “end the harmful practice of sexual orientation and gender identity conversion therapy in the next parliamentary session, working with the UK Government where necessary.”

The Scottish Conservatives said “We would work with the UK Government to end conversion therapy in Scotland and ensure frontline responders are trained to support victims of hate crime.”

Scottish Labour will “legislate to end the cruel practice of conversion therapy.”

Human rights incorporation

The Scottish Greens will “introduce a Human Rights (Scotland) Act to enshrine fundamental rights” and enshrine “the Yogyakarta human rights principles into Scots law.”

The SNP will “incorporate four more United Nations Human Rights treaties into Scots Law… This world-leading human rights legislation will reduce inequality and advance the rights of everyone and ensure human rights are embedded in every aspect of life in Scotland.” They will also “continue to demand the full devolution of equality, employment and immigration powers so that the Scottish Parliament has the powers to protect LGBTI equality and make Scotland a fairer and more equal place to live.”

The Scottish Lib Dems will “incorporate four United Nations human rights treaties into Scots law” and “strengthen existing human rights commitments.”

The Scottish Conservatives did not make any specific commitments on human rights incorporation in their manifesto. On equal opportunities, they will “tackle prejudice and discrimination in all forms to ensure no one is held back from succeeding due to their race, sexuality, gender, religion or disability. Equality of opportunity for all is central to our conservative values, so we will embed the removal of barriers into all our policies.”

Scottish Labour said they are “the party of equality: we will work to build a society free from all forms of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia, discrimination against disabled people and bigotry and prejudice in all their forms.” They will “strengthen the delivery of the socio-economic duty and fully incorporate human rights treaties into Scots Law, with clear mechanisms for resolving problems and remedying infringements.”

LGBT inclusive education

The Scottish Greens will “implement the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign recommendations, including the delayed delivery of promised funding to assist this important work.” They will also “ensure high quality Personal and Social Education. The Scottish Greens will build on our success in winning key improvements to Personal and Social Education, guaranteeing every pupil a PSE curriculum which covers topics such as consent-based sex education, LGBT+ inclusivity, and mental health.”

The SNP said “we remain fully committed to progressing delivery of the world-leading recommendations on LGBT Inclusive Education across the curriculum in order to improve the learning environment for all children and young people. We believe an educational approach to tackling homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying and prejudice in schools is essential. LGBT history, role models and equalities education should be taught in schools to tackle the prejudice which often leads to the bullying and social exclusion of LGBT young people. To achieve this, we have funded Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) to work with decision makers, produce curriculum resources, and deliver services for teachers and pupils to raise awareness, heighten knowledge, and foster good relations. We are committed to that work and will continue to fund it until the prejudice that has blighted too many young lives is eradicated.”

The Scottish Lib Dems will “fully implement the recommendations of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group, underpinned by new statutory guidance on the conduct of relationships, sexual health and parenthood education for schools.”

The Scottish Conservatives said “schools should emphasise the importance of respect, tolerance and equality in an age appropriate way to prevent bullying, racism, homophobia and misogyny.”

Scottish Labour will “ensure a zero-tolerance approach to violence, bullying and discrimination based on sexuality and gender in Scottish society. Scottish Labour supports the aims of the TIE campaign to develop LGBT+ inclusive education in the curriculum.”

LGBTI mental health

The Scottish Greens will “ensure that health and social care services throughout Scotland, including mental health services, are fully inclusive of LGBT+ people and designed to remove barriers and tackle health inequalities.”

The SNP said “mental health problems can affect anyone, but there is substantial evidence that LGBTI people are especially at risk of experiencing poor mental health.”

The Scottish Lib Dems will “commit to funding mandatory training for mental health professionals, including front line CAMHS staff, on supporting LGBTI people, and ensure mental health and suicide prevention training delivered to NHS staff is inclusive.”

The Scottish Conservatives did not make any specific commitments on LGBTI mental health in their manifesto, although they did make wider commitments on mental health.

Scottish Labour did not make any specific commitments on LGBTI mental health in their manifesto, although they did make wider commitments on mental health.

LGBTI inclusive health and social care

The Scottish Greens will “ensure that health and social care services throughout Scotland, including mental health services, are fully inclusive of LGBT+ people and designed to remove barriers and tackle health inequalities.”

The SNP said “we have made huge progress in detecting and treating HIV, and people with the virus are now able to live long, happy and healthy lives. We believe we can go further, and will bring forward a new framework to eliminate HIV transmission by 2030.”

The Scottish Lib Dems will “ensure that all NHS healthcare professionals can meet the needs of their LGBTI patients by incorporating training that addresses barriers faced due to both sexual orientation and gender identity.” They will also “ensure that LGBTI people can access welcoming and inclusive social care services, by providing targeted training for staff with a focus on those working in residential care settings” and they will “ensure that NHS reproductive health and fertility services recognise, and address, barriers and health inequalities faced by LGBTI people, particularly by lesbian and bisexual women.”

The Scottish Conservatives did not make any specific commitments on LGBTI inclusive health and social care in their manifesto.

Scottish Labour said “blood donations still discriminate against gay and bisexual men and their partners, undermining our public health strategy. Scottish Labour will end this discriminatory and unscientific practice.” They also said they share “concerns that some parents of children with intersex traits, also know as variations in sex characteristics, are still pressured into unnecessary surgeries. While some may choose to take medical steps later in life, this is a choice that must be made by individuals themselves.”

Community safety and inclusion for LGBTI people

The Scottish Greens did not make any specific commitments on community safety and inclusion for LGBTI people in their manifesto.

The SNP said: “we remain firmly committed to improving the lives of trans and non-binary people. Trans people continue to experience stigma and prejudice and suffer poorer health outcomes relative to the wider population. This needs to change. We are committed to tackling transphobia head on through inclusive education and action to tackle prejudice and hate crime.

The Scottish Lib Dems “will support anti-racism and antihomophobia campaigns and work to make sport inclusive and intolerant of discrimination at all levels.”

The Scottish Conservatives say they “have strongly opposed the SNP’s Hate Crime Act. To protect free speech, we would introduce a Protection of Free Speech Bill to repeal the Hate Crime Act and prevent other attacks on freedom of expression.” They will also “ensure frontline responders are trained to support victims of hate crime.”

Scottish Labour said “it must be a priority for Police Scotland to build strong connections with our diverse minority ethnic communities, LGBT+ people and other underrepresented communities to ensure their voices are heard and respected.”

LGBTI rights abroad

The Scottish Greens will “ensure LGBT+ inclusion in Scottish Government international development policies”.

Scottish Labour said “development assistance should also be targeted to address inequalities, including LGBT+ rights… as well as support for human rights defenders.”

The other political parties did not make any specific commitments on LGBTI rights abroad in their manifesto.

 

Where to find the manifestos:

Back to Scottish Parliament elections 2021.