LGBTI Equality

LGB stands for lesbian, gay and bisexual and refers to a person’s sexual orientation, while T stands for transgender and refers to a person’s gender identity and I stands for intersex.

Sexual orientation describes who a person is attracted to, whether this is someone of the same gender (homosexuality), different gender (heterosexuality) or more than one gender (bisexuality).

Gender identity is a person’s sense of being a man or a woman, or somewhere in between the two.

Transgender is an umbrella term used to express the diversity of gender identity and to describe all people who do not conform to common ideas of gender roles.

Intersex describes people who are born with variations to their chromosomal composition, reproductive system or genitals that mean they are neither clearly male nor female. Intersex people face some similar equality issues to trans people but they also face specific intersex-related equality and human rights concerns.

Positive change

Scotland has made significant progress from when homosexuality was decriminalised in 1980. We’ve seen a markedly positive change in public attitudes towards the LGBTI community in the relatively short period of time since.

Scotland is considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe in terms of LGBTI equality. In February 2014, Scotland introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014. Of the 17 countries worldwide that had, at that time, legalised same sex marriage, Scotland had the third largest majority vote in favour. Our equal marriage law is considered one of the most progressive such laws in the world.

The Scottish Government is working with national LGBTI organisations to develop a strategic approach to LGBTI equality work in Scotland on issues identified as a priority by the LGBTI communities.

The Scottish Government has provided funding for Pride House at the Commonwealth Games and the Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games, Sport, Equalities and Pensioners’ Rights is a patron of Pride House Glasgow. Pride House will celebrate the participation of LGBTI people in sport and their inclusion in society as well as to showcase to an international audience the progress made in terms of LGBTI equality in Scotland.

Work to be done

Homophobia and transphobia is still widespread, however. For example, YouGov polling across the UK has revealed that in the last five years, 2.4 million people have witnessed verbal homophobic bullying at work. A further 800,000 people have witnessed physical homophobic bullying at work.

Hate crime statistics in Scotland for 2013-14 show that crime aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation is the second most common type of hate crime. A total of 890 charges were reported in 2013-14 – up 22% on the previous year. A steady year-on-year increase has been seen in the number of charges reported since the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 came into force in 2010 – this may be due to a larger proportion of crimes now being reported to police. Survey figures suggest that transphobic hate crime remains significantly under-reported.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2010: Attitudes to Discrimination and Positive Action indicated that attitudes are becoming more positive in relation to gay men and lesbians. For example, at least 61% of respondents now agree that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to marry (up from 53% in 2006). Transgender people remain the subject of fairly widespread discriminatory attitudes, however. The survey revealed, for example, that around half (49%) would be unhappy if a family member formed a relationship with a transgender person.

The majority of LGBTI respondents (69%) had experienced homophobic or transphobic bullying in school, with more than 14% leaving education because of it.

There is also a lack of LGBTI role models in sport. Equality Network’s Out for Sport research revealed that 79% of respondents think there is a problem with homophobia in sport, and 66% think there is a problem with transphobia in sport.