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UK loses top LGBT+ rating

The LGBT+ European Top 20

The LGBT+ European Top 20

But why Scotland now ranked with rest of UK?

The latest rating from International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) has shown that the UK, previously rated top in Europe for LGBT+ rights, has now dropped to second place, below Malta.

The Rainbow Europe Ranking, which rates 49 European countries on their level of LGBT+ rights, has found that the tiny Mediterranean island state of Malta now rates 89%, while the UK comes second with a rating of 85.55%.  This has been down to several recent changes in Malta, which include being the first country to outlaw surgery on intersex children, introducing LGBT+ education and starting same-sex civil unions.

The IGLA recognise that Malta does not yet have equal marriage but make the point that the same pertains to Northern Ireland.  While the UK province is notorious for sectarian bigotry and religious strife, opposition to LGBT+ rights is one issue which unites both sides of the Protestant / Roman Catholic divide.

It would be churlish of one not to congratulate Malta on this victory, and indeed, I previously published an article championing them on the very brave step of becoming the first country in the world to outlaw gender assignment surgery on intersex babies.  That is undoubtably what swung it for them.  That apart, for a country which has been the crossroads of religion for millennia, and which remains culturally strongly Christian, makes their stance all the more amazing.

I do however have a problem with the IGLA latest rating, and that is that all the constituent parts of the UK are now included together.  When I previously reported on this (“Scotland best for LGBTI legal equality”, 11 May 2015), Scotland was leading the field of the Rainbow Index with a staggering 92%, compared to 86% for the rest of the UK.

By now counting the UK as a whole, we see that Scotland’s rating is being dragged down by the rest of the UK.  Needless to say, Northern Ireland must be playing no small part in this.  The religious attitudes in the province are an embarrassment to the whole of the UK.  LGBT+ rights apart, there is also no abortion in NI, and a Marie Stopes clinic which opened in Belfast was forced to close within a few weeks, due to protests which often turned violent.  And if you think you can escape those attitudes in the countryside, consider that the World Heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway, volcanic pillars pushed up be pressure millions of years ago, has an information display claiming it was formed by the Noachian flood, around 4000 years ago.  Frankly, I’m all for a united Ireland – if only to offload a province full of embarrassing religious nutters on someone else.

Another factor however must be the piss poor Same Sex Marriages Act which was kicked through Westminster with indecent haste, and which like all kneejerk legislation, was ill thought-out, ill-planned, and has come in for considerable criticism since it’s implementation.  The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act, by comparison took much longer to formulate, but with the result it not only allowed for same-sex marriage, but was the most comprehensive marriage legislation, for all sexualities and genders,  ever to be passed into Scots Law.

There of course may be somewhere that the Scottish Government has shot itself in the foot, and that is on the recent introduction of their consultation of the future of civil partnership, which has come in for considerable criticism from the Scots LGBT+ charity, Equality Network.  The Scottish Government is giving only two options, both of which would see the eventual removal of civil partnerships altogether in favour of marriage.  There are some, myself included, who would argue that there are couples, of whatever gender and sexuality, who wish to be together, do not wish to marry, but wish their partnerships recognised in law, with all the benefits in law that brings.  The Scottish Government is simply not giving the Scottish people the right to say they may actually want that.

These issues apart, however, one cannot help but wonder just how and why the IGLA decided to amalgamate the constituent parts of the UK into one, and I don’t think we have to look any further than the current UK government.  Ever since the previous league table came out in May, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been boasting that the UK is the best place for LGBT+ rights. Only two months ago, the Prime Minister stated “Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.”

Cameron, as a typical Tory, barely recognises Scotland as a country with its own system of law (which has always been devolved, even under the auspices of the 1707 Treaty of Union).  It is therefore entirely possible that he has put pressure on the IGLA not to count the UK as constituents, but as a whole.  If so, that is odious, as it may well be his government dragging Scotland down with the rest of the UK.

When the Prime Minister won the General Election in May, he made Nicky Morgan MP his Minister for Equalities, despite the fact that she voted against same-sex marriage.  Of course, since then Ms Morgan has claimed that it was wrong for her to do so and she has changed her mind.  But then, any MP with a cabinet post in the offing can easily have their mind changed.  Nicky Morgan’s appointment to that post alone may very well have skewed the Rainbow Table.

Whatever the truth, one cannot but help but feel disappointed in the IGLA for not counting Scotland as separate, when in fact, even within the UK, we have our own laws, our own marriage system, and our own LGBT+ rights.  And while I know there are those who will disagree with me, for my part Scotland losing top place – which at formerly 92% is effectively what has happened – is just one more symptom of a much wider malaise; that being that as long as Scotland remains in the UK, we shall always suffer and be dragged down by Westminster as a result.


The full Rainbow Index table can be found here:

http://www.rainbow-europe.org/country-ranking

Link to my article when Scotland was leading the field:

https://xandradurward.wordpress.com/category/scotland/

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Scotland best for LGBTI legal equality

$$-129737-same-sex-marriage-rally-outside-parliamentScotland meets 92% of LGBTI rights criteria

The highly respected International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) has named Scotland as the top European country for legal LGBTI rights.

IGLA is an association of 1100 organisations from 110 countries around the world, campaigning for IGLA rights.

The 2015 IGLA ‘Rainbow Index’, which judges nations on legal rights fo LGBTI people against 48 standards of criteria, placed Scotland with 92%, compared to 86% for the UK as a whole.

The criteria nations are measured by include legal protections from discrimination in work and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

The Scottish LGBTI charity, Equality Network, released the news on Sunday, 10 March, stating that it was their belief that the success was largely down to the devolved Scottish Parliament’s willingness to engage with the Scots LGBTI community over matters of legislation.  Scotland’s LGBTI laws include same-sex marriage under the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act, 2014, which had cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament and only came into Scots Law on 31 December 2014, after a long consultation with Equality Network.  The result was some of the most LGBTI-inclusive marriage legislation in the world.

Equality Network also stated that the rest of the UK fared poorer due to inadequate provision for intersex people in English and Welsh legislation, and Northern Ireland’s “failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage”

Equality Network’s Policy and public affairs coordinator, Tom French, welcomed the news but also cautioned that there is still room for improvement.

“The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures,” Tom French stated, “However, the Equality Network warns against any complacency, as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland. As ILGA’s review shows there are still areas where Scotland is failing to respect LGBTI human rights and falling behind the progress in other countries, particularly when it comes to the rights of trans and intersex people.”

He concluded, “There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives. Despite real progress in the law, LGBTI people in Scotland are still facing unacceptable levels of prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage throughout their lives.”

Scotland now takes pride of place at the top of the IGLA European table, with the rest of the UK on 86%, Belgium on 83%, Malta on 77%, and Sweden on 72%.

The lowest countries for LGBTI rights are Azerbaijan (5%), Russia (8%), Armenia (9%), Ukraine (10%) and Monaco (11%).