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LGBT Youth Scotland's Response to EU Referendum Result

[Photo: young people at LGBT Youth Scotland's Youth Summit]

After dialogue with LGBT young people, and now that the dust has had a bit of time to settle after the EU referendum result, LGBT Youth Scotland wants to communicate this message to young Scots, the LGBT community, and our stakeholders.

LGBT Youth Scotland's Statement on EU Referendum Result

Following the European Union referendum result, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people may be feeling concerned about the impact this decision will have on their rights, their safety and opportunities for the future. This will be particularly difficult for those young people aged 16 and 17 who were excluded from this decision, despite being able to vote in the Scottish Parliament elections.

Firstly, LGBT Youth Scotland is committed to ensuring that LGBTI young people’s rights are fully realised and protected. At present human rights have not been diminished in Scotland. Human rights remain enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and for those young people under 18, their rights are also addressed within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The EU has clearly taken a lead in overseeing human rights legislation and there is a risk that existing protections could be eroded. Therefore many LGBTI young people will find the EU referendum result disappointing. However, it is within the UK Government’s and Scottish Government’s power to take steps to protect the rights of its people. This can be achieved by protecting and strengthening existing legislation, such as the Equality Act, and by incorporating the UNCRC into Scots law.

LGBT Youth Scotland works closely with our European partners, including IGLYO and ILGA Europe. No matter the outcome of this referendum, we remain committed to these relationships and to improving the lives of LGBTI people across Europe . We value these international partnerships and the knowledge and contribution they bring to LGBT Youth Scotland’s work.

Moving forward we believe the Scottish Government and the UK Government must  consider the needs of LGBTI young people in identifying their next steps. LGBTI young people also have a clear role to play in ensuring their voices are heard in the path ahead and in protecting the rights of every citizen in Scotland.

We welcome the Scottish Youth Parliament's call for young people’s voices to be represented in the decisions that will take place in the coming weeks, months and years. We also encourage LGBTI young people to get active in their communities where possible, and to stand together against prejudice and discrimination in all its forms.

Find out information about your nearest LGBT Youth Scotland youth group at: www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/youth-groups

Reaction from LGBT Young People

We asked representatives of LGBT Youth Scotland’s National Youth Council to give their reaction. In their own words, this is what they had to say:

Chris Timmins (17):

“When the result came out I was pretty scared, and uncertain about my future. I think young people now, more than ever, need to make sure that our voices are heard and fight for what we believe in, regardless of whether you were a leave or remain supporter. Young people should also know that it will be ok, even if it doesn’t seem that way at the moment.” 

Finn Haggerty (16):

“I am quite happy after the brexit vote but I think our message to young people should be if you have the ability to vote then do so because each vote matters and don't listen to fear-mongering people because that'll just cause unnecessary panic.”

Alex Gardner (25):

“I'm angry cause 16 and 17 year olds didn't get to vote on something that will change their lives dramatically. I'm angry that the EU ref wasn't explained enough or advertised enough for people to fully understand what's going on. Our best option going forward is to do our best to stay in the EU or get back in somehow. Young people are gonna lose out on more than they know if we don't and not just funding but opportunities for travel and work abroad.”  

Megan McIntyre (17):                                                                                                     

“I’m just annoyed that as a 17 year old I wasn’t given the chance to vote in something so life changing . It’s just crap because I am very politically active and aware, and I know a lot of my age group are yet when it comes down to it we aren’t even asked our opinions when this is the country that I will grow up in.

"I'd much rather I was growing into an adult in a stable job market, stable economy and with a wonderful alliance of amazing countries which have the peoples best interests at heart” 

Michael Gowan, MSYP (22):

"We all just have to wait and see what the leave vote will bring, but I'll admit, I'm worried. I'm worried when we have people.. talking about potentially deporting EU Migrants - that's our friends being used as bargaining chips. I'm worried that young people won't be seen as people; that our needs will be reduced to a negotiation position, only to be discarded for trade rights, or similar. I'm worried that the voice of my generation won't be heard; that our low turnout in the referendum will be used as an excuse to ignore our needs and opinions.

More than anything, I worry we're forgetting that we're talking about a massive impact on everyone’s lives - each day we hear politicians quote figures about how we'll be £350 million a week better off, or £60 million worse off. But we don't hear what that'll mean for us as individuals. What will happen to the rights of workers? As a disabled, LGBT youth, will I still have the same legal protection I did before the referendum? Maybe things will work out in the end, but with the political infighting we're seeing in the major parties, I don't think it can."