Scottish Government takes another progressive step.
From Monday, 2 November 2015, same-sex couples in civil partnerships registered outside Scotland will be able to have them converted to marriages in the country. Previously only civil partnerships registered in Scotland were able to be thus converted.
The implementation of this legislation is one more extremely progressive step of the devolved Scottish Government, following the implementation of the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act 2014 coming into power. Since the Act became law, more than 1000 same-sex couples have married or had their civil partnerships turned into marriages in Scotland.
Local Government Minister of the Scottish National Party (SNP) administration, Marco Biagi MSP stated “We are sending a powerful message out about the kind of country we are – one which is incredibly proud that same-sex couples can show their love and commitment to each other by getting married.
“By passing historic legislation last year, and now extending it to include those who had a civil partnership outwith Scotland, we are demonstrating to the world how importantly Scotland views equality.”
The move has likewise been welcomed by Scottish LGBT+ charity Equality Network. Tim Hopkins, Director of Equality Network, stated “We very much welcome this change, which is a small but important piece of unfinished business from the equal marriage legislation last year.
“Without this, same-sex couples living in Scotland who have registered a civil partnership outwith Scotland would be unable to marry in Scotland unless they live apart for a year first to dissolve their civil partnership. That’s obviously not an option for most couples, and now they will be able to marry in the usual way, changing their civil partnership directly to a marriage.
“The number of couples in this situation is relatively small, but the value of the change to them is huge.”
There is currently no obligation upon same-sex couples in civil partnerships to change them to marriage in Scotland, and it remains a purely personal choice.
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.
An account of a 19th century Scots married transgender man.
On 29th November 1871 one Doctor Allison was called to the home of Thomas Early in Pinkerton Lane, in the town of Renfrew, Scotland, where their lodger, Johnnie Campbell, had become seriously ill. Dr Allison lost no time in diagnosing smallpox and intimated that Mr Campbell must at once be transferred to the infirmary. Johnnie Campbell was steadfastly against this but Dr Allison was adamant that no person in his condition could be permitted to stay in shared dwellings, and that he needed immediate hospital treatment. Upon this, Johnnie Campbell asked that he could dress first. It was at this juncture that Dr Allison asked “Is it because of sex?”, to which John Campbell admitted yes, it was. Dr Allison spoke with Mrs Early, asking if she had any clothes the patient could dress in for transfer to hospital, as it turned out that her lodger was in fact a woman. The said clothes were borrowed in which the patient was dressed and admitted to Paisley Infirmary as Marie Campbell.
‘Marie’ Campbell was born in 1850. The location is unknown but from the age of 13 had been dressing in male attire to keep “clear o’ thae blackguard men”, because of being “misused” in her youth, and using the name John, or more commonly the Scots form, Johnnie. In 1869 Johnnie Campbell was living in East Calder, West Lothian, and married one Mary Ann McKennan, the two then settling in the nearby town of Kirknewton. They were apparently happy for a few months until Campbell deserted the then-pregnant Mary and her two illegitimate children. He travelled first to Howden-o’-the-Brig (now Howden), near Tranent, East Lothian, where he was employed as a surfaceman between Ormiston and Dalkeith, Midlothian, on the Newbattle Coal Company’s railway. Thomas Early had worked alongside John on farms in West Lothian, and when the latter and his wife decided to move to Renfrew to work the shipyards, he invited John to go with him. Here Johnnie Campbell gained employment in the shipyard of Henderson, Coulborn & Co, where he was put to work on the forge. His three teammates and his foreman soon held him in high esteem, remarking upon his intelligence and ability to turn his hand to any task alloted him.
Mrs Early later stated that in the five years she had known Campbell, it was only ever as a man. However, she claimed that her suspicions were aroused with how ‘handy’ he was around the house, particularly in sewing and mending the clothes of other lodgers. Johnnie however apparently behaved like any other man, and even had a short affair with a highland girl called Kate Martin, whom he would take on trips to Edinburgh and who stayed at the Early’s home some nights, with Kate sharing her bed, and Thomas Early sleeping in the same bed as Johnnie Campbell.
It was when Johnnie, alias Marie, Campbell was admitted to Paisley Infirmary that it all came crashing down. While ‘Marie’ was still in hospital, the resident Medical Officer, Doctor Lewis, received a letter from the Inspector of the Poor of Kirknewton, stating he had received information about the patient Marie Campbell, and that he believed her to be one Johnnie Campbell who had been wanted by the parish authorities of Kirknewton since 1869. At the request of Dr Lewis, the Inspector visited Marie in hospital, with Mary Ann McKennan. The latter then positively identified Marie Campbell as the “Johnnie Campbell” she had married in 1869 and who had subsequently deserted her.
Marie / Johnnie stated that Mary Ann McKennan had known full well of her biological gender when they married, but there was a “mutual understanding”. Mary Ann denied this, claiming that she only discovered Johnnie’s gender a few days after the ceremony. She stated that when Johnnie had deserted her, she had told the authorities that her husband was a woman, but having two illegitimate children, the Poor Board considered her a ‘woman of ill repute’ and thereby nobody believed her. Mary Ann subsequently gave birth to her third child (obviously also illegitimate) and had experienced difficulties registering the birth. KIrknewton Poor Board, being all heart as they were, refused to give aid to Mary Ann on the basis that her child was not that of the man she married.
Johnnie, now being forced to go under his birth name of Marie, Campbell was arrested by Paisley Police on 24 January 1872 and, having recovered from smallpox, was transferred to the Edinburgh County Constabulary, who charged him with contravening the Registration Act by making a false entry by using the name John Campbell in marrying Mary Ann McKennan. The subsequent fine was paid by a subscription from Johnnie’s former workmates who stated that while disappointed at the deception, “a more kindly and obliging worker never was engaged in the yard”.
One newspaper stated that it was an “Unhappy termination of an extraordinary career”.
So, what make you of that dears? Personally I am not believing for one moment that Mary Ann McKennan did not know of Johnnie Campbell’s birth gender when she married him. I hate to judge dears, but this is a woman who already had two children out of wedlock and we are expected to believe that she never questioned her husband not getting his tackle out on their wedding night? Please dears, that is stretching credulity to the limit. Seems far more likely that Mary Ann, who obviously liked sex, was fully aware and liked her muffin buttered on both sides.
I’ve no doubt that some will say that Johnnie Campbell was a typical man for the fact that he walked out on his wife and family. Wait a minute, however. The fact that Mary Ann fell pregnant proves that she must have been sleeping with another man while married to Johnnie, and that may have been what prompted him to desert her.
I’m also not entirely convinced that Thomas and Mrs Early were not aware. They had known Johnnie for five years, even lived with him, and he carried out traditionally feminine roles. Meanwhile, in a shared lodging house (where apparently it was not uncommon for Johnnie to sleep in the same bed with another man), nobody saw him undressed, or noticed that he never shaved? Who is kidding who here?
The case is as fascinating as it is tragic, however. Not least because when one reads of historical newspaper reports of trans people, the one thing which is striking is the lack of prejudice. Look at how one newspaper merely referred to the sad loss of Johnnie’s career. Compared to the modern age, it appears that the people of the 19th century were actually quite tolerant of trans people. Consider how Johnnie’s workmates even paid his fine – an act of charity towards a trans person one would be hard to find today. The people of the 19th century may have considered them a curiosity, but otherwise there is a distinct lack of the hate and venom which trans people experience today. Consider that Johnnie Campbell was fined for breaching the Registration Act, nothing more. It was only when some people behaved in outrageous sexually immoral behaviour – such as in the case of the music hall entertainers Fanny Park and Stella Clinton, who actually prostituted themselves – that Victorian society came down hard on them. But even then, while Fanny Park stayed in Edinburgh for a short while, she was largely accepted for who she was. One is given to wonder then if this apparent acceptance was a Scots phenomenon? Which would be rather unusual for what was and remains the most Presbyterian nation in the world.
It seems obvious to me that Johnnie Campbell was indeed a transgender man. I’m not saying women can’t do it, but working in heavy industry such as railways and in dockyards is bloody hard – even my male alter ego couldn’t do it (but then, he’s, to use a guid auld Scots phrase, “a big Jessie” anyway) and any woman even considering it in the 19th century would have been thought to be insane, not that many would. We can only assume then that Johnnie was indeed a man. He knew it, but he also knew if the world knew the truth, he would never be accepted as one.
And cases like that of Johnnie Campbell deserve and need to be highlighted. For by pointing to historical instances, the LGBTQI community can further assert that all forms of gender and sexuality are perfectly normal, as instances throughout history clearly illustrate.
Footnote: In researching this article I only found one instance of Johnnie Campbell being miscalled, and it is a terrible one. The Morning Chronicle for 29 January 1872 refers to him as an “Englishwoman”. Puir Johnnie. There’s nae need tae misca’ him like thon.
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%).
Religious loony claims gays will force Christians to enjoy anal sex.
Oh dear. Just when you think he cannot get any more bigoted, bizarre or ill-informed, American Christian fundie Pat Robertson insists that allowing same-sex marriage will eventually lead to all sorts of sexual behaviours he finds “abhorrent”, including male rape apparently.
Speaking on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club in response to Indiana’s homophobic Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Pat claimed that gay customers “make you conform to them.”
In one of his most bigoted and bizarre statements to date – and he’s come out with some doozies – Pat said “You’re gonna say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality,” he added. “Sooner or later, you’re going to have to conform your religious beliefs to the group of some abhorrent thing. It won’t stop at homosexuality.”
As ever, a homophobe hiding behind a Bible to promote his bigotry, and getting it all wrong as usual. In falsely claiming that homosexual men (you’ll notice Pat never references lesbians) will enforce others to ‘enjoy’ anal sex, what he is talking about is rape. I would like to ask Pat Robertson if he thinks women victims enjoyed their experience of rape, but I am frankly scared of the reply I might get.
It may interest Pat, and any who think like him, to learn that the vast majority of rapists are heterosexual men, and that includes rapists who anally rape other men. This is because rape is not about sexuality, it is about control and power over and the humiliation of the victim. As he is such a loyal ‘merkin’ boy, who no doubts hates the ‘dirty commies’, I suggest that Pat reads about the atrocities the Red Army committed during the march through Germany to Berlin in 1945. Soviet soldiers, mostly heterosexual (the Soviet Union was probably more homophobic than the west), raped anything that moved; women and men, girls and boys. as a weapon of war and as revenge for the Nazi invasion of Russia.
Oh gosh, we’re all going to like oral sex – like we don’t all like it already. And I’ve got news for Pat, that includes many Christian couples, with both partners happily going down on each other, just as couples have been doing for millennia. Unless of course, given his obsession with gay sex, Pat is referring purely to homosexual fellatio (and no dears, that’s not a character in Hamlet).
And here comes the stupid statement – bestiality. I really wish Pat would become better informed and learn that every US state and every country which has allowed same-sex marriage has the same stringent laws against bestiality (he means zoophilia, rather than human beings being sexually ‘bestial’, which was the original definition) as all others do. And of course it is not gay men who practice bestiality – it’s mostly straight men who do that. I know this; I live in Scotland, where the men are real men – and the sheep are nervous.
Then we come to polyamory; group sex. Again, people have been happily engaging in orgies for millennia, and if Pat thinks this does not happen in the straight community, I suggest he takes the blinkers off.
I really cannot BELIEVE that Pat Robertson describes polygamy, having many wives, as an “abhorrent” practice. WOAH, Pat. To use a wise old Scots saying, haud the bus. Pat Robertson bases his opposition to homosexuality on verses against it in the Old Testament – the very same Old Testament which is replete with men having many wives, and Bob Almighty certainly didn’t seem to have a problem with that. It’s not the LGBTQI community calling for polygamy, Pat, it’s your religion which advocated that.
With predictable ignorance and bigotry, Pat then goes off on a rant about Islam, correctly stating that stoning wives is in the Qur’an – whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that the very same practice appears in the Old Testament. In fact, the laws on stoning appear in the Book of Leviticus; the very same book that Pat and his like get the rule of gay sex being an “abomination” from.
Similarly Pat makes the mistake of stating that a Muslim can tell his wife “I divorce you” three times, and the couple are legally divorced. While the “triple-talaq” of a man telling his wife “I divorce thee” three times is indeed legal in some Islamic countries, there are some Muslim scholars who frown upon it, stating that there should be a period of time between each talaq to give the wife two more chances – a sort of “three strikes and you’re out”. The triple-talaq however is most certainly not legal in developed, western countries, where Muslims seeking divorce have to go through the same due process of law as any other couple, nor is it ever likely to become legal in western society. Hell, could you see US lawyers giving up potential divorce cases without putting up a fight? But Pat maintains “it’s in the book”. If he is meaning that the triple-talaq is in the Qur’an, then it is obvious he has never picked up a copy. It appears in fact in the Hadith; writings of Mohammed. And that is why some Islamic countries allow it, but not all.
It may also interest Pat to learn that under Talmudic Law a man must divorce an unfaithful wife, even if he is inclined to forgive her. And the Torah states that divorce is simply obtained by a man writing a Bill of Divorce, and handing to his wife, which any Jewish husband is entitled to do, for as little as the wife being a poor cook. At least in Islam it has to be something substantial, like adultery.
Poor Pat. Such intolerance and ignorance in under three minutes. And always reducing what is supposed to be about loving relationships to sex, and attacks homosexuality at every turn.
Not that I wasn’t already aware of this. In 1999 the Bank of Scotland entered a deal with Pat Robertson to try to use his influence to break into the banking market in the USA. Having come over here on a visit, Robertson responded in an outburst decrying the amount of homosexuality in Scotland. Robertson stated “In Scotland you can’t believe how strong the homosexuals are.” Well, I don’t know if Pat was speaking from personal experience, but while some of them are quite strong, the rest are what are commonly known in Scotland as ‘Big Jessies’ – I should know, I am one. He added that Scotland was “a dark country overrun by homosexuals.” HA! I should be so bloody lucky, dears.
So, having slighted the best wee country in the world, one would imagine the Bank of Scotland would have sent Pat packing wi’ a flea in his lug. Like hell they did. They broke off their business relations and gave Robertson £10 million ‘compensation’. What the hell, BoS? I’ve been a loyal customer for over 20 years. If you’re throwing millions away, throw some in my direction.
So what do we make of Pat Robertson’s obsession with sex, and gay sex in particular? The late great Bill Hicks once said “You just know someone that right-wing is hiding a deep, dark, secret.” and of course, he was right. So know what? I reckon that’s Pat’s problem. Anyone that obsessed about gay sex must be thinking about it morning, noon and night. And as any psychologist worth their salt will tell you, those who are most vehemently homophobic do not necessarily hate gays, they hate themselves for their own latent homosexuality, and are so ashamed of it, but are too cowardly to admit it, they lash out at others.
Let’s face facts; Pat Robertson is so far back in the closet, that he has Aslan on speed dial.
And if that is the case, another reason why Pat Robertson is so homophobic is because he’s not getting any action himself. In that respect, he reminds me of the Conservative Party politician Ann Widdecombe, who at age 67 claims to have stayed a virgin through choice. Yes, but not necessarily her choice.
And so it is with Pat Robertson, who is more to be pitied than anything else, as a sad, sexually confused, old man, who is unlikely to ever get the good solid rodgering he needs, and which may just unpucker his face a bit and make him lighten up a little.
So he need not worry himself about anyone in the LGBTQI community forcing him into anything. Certainly not from me. Sorry Pat dear, but although I’m quite happy to shag just about anything that moves (and a few things that don’t), you wouldn’t even be last on my list; you simply would not appear upon it. And I reckon the same goes for all my LGBTQI sisters and brothers.
Finally, if you are reading this Pat, and you’re not pleased about it, well, you claim to be a Christian, so forgive me.
Majority of Scots LGBT community back independence
Hello dears, as I write this, there is only one day to go until the Referendum on Scottish Independence on 18 September 2014. And it pleases me greatly that Pink News held a poll in which 54% of the Scots LGBT community stated they would be voting Yes.
2163 Scottish readers of Pink News took part in the poll, in which 54% said they would vote Yes, 44% said they would vote No, and 2% were undecided. When asked which party they would vote for in a Scottish election, 35% said Scottish National Party (SNP), 26% Labour, 10% Green, 9% Liberal Democrats, 7% Conservative, 5% Scottish Socialist Party, and 8% unsure.
The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), stated “I am delighted this PinkNews poll has produced a majority for the Yes campaign, as well as the opportunity to build a fairer country that comes with it. It is a fantastic response from Scotland’s LGBT community and is a further demonstration of the rise in support for a Yes vote we have seen across Scotland. An independent Scotland will herald a new era for equalities, enshrining rights and protections in a written constitution.”
Now, I have met Alex Salmond and he is a lovely man who can completely disarm people with his warm smile, and who could charm the birds out of the trees. However, whilst it is all very well and good to speak of building a fairer country and enshrining rights in a new constitution, he may well want to end the funding of his party by the Stagecoach bus company boss, Brian Souter, a known homophobe who once launched a campaign to retain the notorious anti-gay Section 28. He may also want to offload the many Holy Willies in his party who are equally homophobic and who would seek to push their own faith in an independent Scotland – that is NOT happening. Those are just two reasons I am not and cannot be a member of your party, Alex Sweetie.
So, given the above, just how did we reach a situation where a poll shows that the majority would back independence and would vote SNP? Well, I reckon LGBT people are pretty well switched on and tend to be very intelligent. A great many will not have fallen for the rhetoric of the media who have continually tried to claim that the referendum is purely an SNP matter, when that is simply not the case. The official campaign for Scottish independence is Yes Scotland, a non-partisan, grass roots organisation, of which the SNP are but one of many parties and individuals who support it. Certainly, the SNP are the most vocal proponents of the independence campaign, but given they are the government in power in the Scottish Parliament and their raison d’etre is independence, it would be surprising if they were not. But to even suggest that the SNP are the ones driving Yes is as untrue as to suggest that the Conservative Party are the driving force behind the official campaign against independence, Better Together.
I would therefore suggest that the LGBT community are well aware of this (probably more so than the cisgender, heterosexual majority) and that is why they don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Then there is the House of Lords question. I happen to know for a fact that there are a number of LGBT people on both sides of the border who dislike the fact that there are 26 unelected Church of England bishops, the Lords Spiritual, many of whom are homophobic, who have the ability to vote and influence government legislation upon them. We dislike it even more in Scotland, given that the Church of England is the English established church, and a minority faith in Scotland. Little wonder then that Scots LGBT people should wish to remove themselves from that poisonous influence.
LGBT support for the SNP is little harder to explain. The fact that England may have well have got same-sex marriage before Scotland, yet the Scottish government tabled their Bill first, may go some way towards doing so. Besides which, the English Same Sex Marriage Act was booted through Westminster with indecent haste, with the result of all knee-jerk legislation, it is deeply flawed. The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act, however, although it took much longer, is much more comprehensive and embracing of many more people. The Scottish Government working hand-in-hand with the Equality Network to make it so may very well have wooed a number of LGBT supporters.
And despite their funding from Souter and anti-gay religionists, the SNP government’s support for the LGBT community during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may have won a good deal of support as well. In Glasgow an LGBT rainbow flag flew over the city – after Green Party and SNP Glasgow Councillors forced the ruling Labour administration, who had downright refused to fly the flag, into a u-turn. The Scottish Government echoed this by flying a rainbow flag over the Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Then came the First Minister’s speech at the opening of the games, in which he openly condemned the persecution of LGBT people in many Commonwealth countries; a speech for which he was congratulated by none other than LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
All in all, it seems that the 54% are correct in their thinking, that only an independent Scotland can safeguard and further their rights.
And should Better Together shoulder any of the blame for their failure in this poll? As much as I disagree with them, I would never suggest that Better Together as an organisation is homophobic. As the old adage goes, however, politics makes strange bedfellows, and some of Better Together’s are not so much strange as odious.
At one point Better Together put a rainbow logo up on their Facebook page. It had to be taken down less than 24 hours later, due to a barrage of homophobic abuse from their own members and supporters. This does not in the least surprise me. Better Together has attracted quite a number of followers from the extreme right. It is to their credit that they refused the Orange Order membership and refused to have anything to do with the Orange march through Edinburgh opposing independence. They have not however distanced themselves from some other far-right organisations, such as the Britannica Party. And if Better Together wish to dispute that, perhaps they could explain why Britannica Party Treasurer Max Dunbar, along with his BP cohorts, was canvassing on a street in Glasgow City Centre on 31 August 2014, with official Better Together banners and handing out Better Together literature. That of course was the day he kicked a pregnant homeless woman in the stomach, before calling her an alcoholic or a drug addict – he has since been arrested for the assualt. Yes, you never read about that one in the tabloids, did you dears.
As long as Better Together associate themselves with extreme right, often violent, and certainly homophobic individuals and organisations, is there any surprise then that the LGBT community will continue to be repelled by them?
Better Togther have also ran an extremely negative campaign, in which they have been caught out in many lies, used scaremongering, and their supporters tend to be argumentative, unhappy and often aggressive – as a Yes campaigner, I can confirm this, as I’ve been on the receiving end of it many times. Compare that to the cheerfulness and often party atmosphere of Yes campaigns. One in Glasgow on Saturday, 13 September, was almost carnival-like. But again, you won’t read that in the tabloids. It is little wonder then that Yes attracts people with our positive message, while Better Together’s negativity turns people off, whatever their sexuality and/or gender.
Whatever the rights and wrongs however, with really is just hours to go now, it seems that the LGBT Yes vote is in the bag, and I for one could only be happier if it were a sassy pink Prada bag, full of rainbow sequins.
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