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What are the Scottish Government’s plans on LGBT rights? A Quick Guide

On Tuesday, the First Minister announced the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government. This is a document that says what the Scottish Government is going to do over the next year and during the (nearly) five years till the next election.

You’ve probably already read all 123 pages of it (!!!), but just in case, we decided to break down some of the key points that will be especially important for LGBT young people.

Gender Recognition

“Gender Recognition” is how some trans people can legally change the sex recorded on their birth certificate.

What’s happening: The government has said they will bring forward a Bill in the next year to improve the current law around Gender Recognition. They’ll ask MSPs in the Scottish Parliament to vote for the Bill to become law.

The new Bill will make it simpler for trans people to change their birth certificate by:

  • Removing the need for a medical diagnosis
  • Lowering the “lived experience” time from two years to three months (with an additional three month “reflection period” after you apply)
  • Signing a statutory declaration (a legal document) saying you plan to live permanently in your “acquired gender” instead of being assessed by a Gender Recognition Panel.

This Bill won’t include non-binary gender, but see below for details on their plans to support non-binary people.  

In the past the Scottish Government has said  it will lower the age of gender recognition from 18 to 16, but we don’t know yet if this will be in the Bill.  

Trans healthcare

Many trans, including non-binary, young people will know how hard it is to access gender affirming healthcare in Scotland.

What’s happening: The Scottish Government has said they want to change this and will develop a plan to improve Gender Identity Services by end of this year.

To do this they will:

• Fund improvements to Gender Identity services until 2024
• Publish a plan to transform gender affirming healthcare by the end of 2021
• Implement this plan between 2022-2024

They’ve also said they will include the voices of people with experience of using these services.

LGBT Youth Scotland’s Trans Rights Youth Commission are currently focussing on trans healthcare and will work to ensure trans young people’s voices are heard.

Conversion Therapy 

‘Conversion therapy’ is a practice that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

What’s happening: Conversion Therapy Ban introduced by 2023.

Both the Scottish and UK Governments have said they will conversion therapy.

The Scottish Government says it will make sure this happens in Scotland, whether working with the UK Government at Westminster or creating its own law for Scotland.

Non-Binary Rights

What’s happening: Action plan to improve equality and wellbeing for non-binary people by Spring 2023.

The Scottish Government is running a “Non-Binary Working Group” to find out what changes are needed to make things better for non-binary people in Scotland.

• This is a group made up of LGBT organisations in Scotland, academics and non-binary people.

• LGBT Youth Scotland is a member of this group, as well as a young non-binary person from our Trans Rights Youth Commission.

• This group will come up with recommendations to improve the equality and wellbeing of non-binary people in Scotland by early 2022. It is likely we will seek the views of young non-binary people to feed into these recommendations.

• The Scottish Government will use these recommendations to develop an action plan by spring of 2023.

LGBT Inclusive education

What’s happening: Funding starting this year.

The Scottish Government will provide funding for education, training and resources for staff in schools to help make sure LGBTI young people experience an education free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Hate Crime

A hate crime is any crime which the victim or any other person sees as being motivated (wholly or partly) by prejudice towards a social group, like homophobia or racism.

Under the law in Scotland, hate crimes can be targeted at someone based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

LGBT people or people perceived to be LGBT can be victims of hate crimes.

What’s happening: The Scottish Government says it will publish a Hate Crime Strategy in 2022 which will make communities safer. This will include making sure that people in Scotland know what hate crime is and how to report it.

Human Rights

All human beings have basic rights and freedoms, whoever you are and wherever you’re from. These are protected in international law, meaning every country has to protect these rights.

Each country can also put in place their own laws to make sure it’s easier for people to defend their rights without having to speak to an international court.

What’s happening: The Scottish Government says it will introduce a Human Rights Bill for Scotland. This Bill will outline the rights that everyone has.

The government has said the Bill will say that LGBTI people should have equal access to all the rights within it.

The Scottish Government will ask people to share their views on this in the coming year. This is what’s called a public consultation.

How Can I get my voice heard on these and other issues that affect me?

• You can put in your own response to Scottish Government consultations.

• You can share your views with LGBT Youth Scotland by speaking to your youth worker, responding to surveys or joining in consultation workshops and focus groups. We use what you share here to shape our own responses to Scottish Government consultations and can share your views in meetings with MSPs and government ministers.

• Write to your MSP to ask them to support your rights, tell them what you think needs to change, or ask them to ask the Scottish Government a question about your rights. 

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