LGBT inequality rife in Scotland

Lgbt history month web

Campaigning for LGBT history month earlier this year – sadly LGBT Scots say they still experience prejudice and discrimination

Vast majority of LGBT Scots suffer daily inequality because of their sexuality  

21st July 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Inequality is rife among Scotland’s LGBT communities with prejudice and discrimination an everyday occurrence, a major new study reveals.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people surveyed for the Equality Network’s LGBT Equality Report reveal that despite recent advances in the law and social attitudes they are still being treated unfairly.

A shocking 89% of LGBT people believe Scotland still has a problem with inequality, the report found, while 94% say that more needs to be done to tackle the day-to-day prejudice and discrimination.

Many "never" or only "sometimes" feel able to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity with their own family (52%), at work (60%) or when accessing services (71%), for fear of the prejudice they might face.

And some 43% of LGBT people in Scotland have moved, or considered moving, to live in a different area or out of the country altogether because of the discrimination they have faced.

I was made to feel like an outsider in my own community

"I was bullied throughout my time at high school for being gay," says Stuart Russell, a 23 year old from Fife. "I was outed before I even had time to figure myself out. The bullying was all day, every day. At lunch times I would have younger kids throw food at me and shout abusive comments at me. People would occasionally follow me home shouting abuse and try to beat me up. The police were involved a few times. I had very few friends so high school was lonely. 

"I was made to be an outsider and felt so insecure about myself. When I went to teachers about the abuse I was suffering, nothing was done. I was sent to a therapist and nothing happened to the bullies. By sending me to therapy, my school made me feel even more insecure, as if I was in the wrong. They pawned me off on someone else and swept it under the rug, something that happens a lot in Scottish schools. 

"Teachers need training, they are not trained to support LGBT students or deal with homophobic bullying. I made numerous attempts on my life as a teenager because of the bullying. Even today I still don’t find living in Scotland a very positive experience as a gay man. I am still made to feel like an outsider and I still spend the vast majority of my time alone, escaping to London when I can. 

"I think gay equality still has a long way to go in Scotland, especially in small towns, closed mindedness is still a big issue. I think many people believe that because gay marriage is a thing now that’s it, that’s equality achieved. That’s not the case. There is a lot more to it. LGBT bullying in education is a major issue and not enough is being done about it.”

Campaigners say the report sends a clear message about the huge scale of change still needed before LGBT people will have full equality in Scotland.

Among the key recommendations is a call for the Scottish Government to publish an LGBT equality and human rights strategy and action plan, against which progress can be measured.

Tom French, policy and public affairs coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “The report reveals the stark reality of the prejudice, discrimination and other forms of disadvantage that LGBT people continue to face in Scotland.

It is clear that while we have made welcome progress in recent years there is still much more to do before LGBT people will experience real equality in their day-to-day lives.

The scale of the challenge is considerable and with the next Scottish Parliament election rapidly approaching we will be looking to the Scottish Government, and all the political parties, to set out clear plans for how they will tackle inequality and make Scotland a fairer and more equal place for LGBT people to live.”

Cathleen Lauder, a 38 year old transgender woman from Edinburgh, said that discrimination was a fact of life.

“People think that because we’ve got same-sex marriage in Scotland LGBT people now have equality but nothing could further from the truth,” she said.

“Being transgender in Scotland is still very difficult, attitudes can at times be back in the dark ages even in Edinburgh.

“I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had abuse hurled at me when I walk down the street just for daring to be who I am.

“People shout at you, call you names, give you dirty looks, make crude gestures and try to humiliate you. Sometimes you worry you might get attacked.”

The Equality Network says it will be calling on all political parties to set out firm manifesto commitments on LGBT equality for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.