The SNP launched their general election manifesto today, but with no mention of several key equality policies, including reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the manifesto in Glasgow, with a focus on Brexit and the right for Scotland to hold another independence referendum.
However, the party makes only one reference to LGBT issues (to seek reform of the ‘proof’ requirement for asylum seekers) compared to several during the 2017 Westminster election and in the 2017 manifesto.
There is no mention of their position on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act for trans people in the rest of the UK, with SNP votes likely to be needed in Westminster to pass any future legislation for England & Wales. The party has already committed to alter the law in Scotland, although it has now announced a second public consultation into the matter, pushing any reforms much further down the line.
They also appear to have dropped the call for a UK Special Envoy to promote the rights of LGBTI people worldwide, something highlighted in the 2017 Westminster manifesto.
There are no references to whether the party will support retention of the Equality Act and principles of the European Convention on Human Rights after Brexit.
There are no references to the party supporting the banning of so-called gay conversion therapies in the UK.
In contrast, even the Conservative manifesto committed the party to going further than the SNP, with a desire to host the UK Government’s first international LGBT conference and promising steps to “vigorously combat harassment and violence” against LGBT people.
Meanwhile, Labour say they will “eliminate remaining areas of discrimination in law” for LGBT people, including reform of the Gender Recognition Act. They say they will take steps to safeguard LGBT rights at home and abroad by retaining the Human Rights Act, take action to better understand the LGBT homelessness crisis, fully fund inclusive education and sexual health services and appoint a global ambassador on LGBT issues within the Foreign Office. The party also commit to ensure all frontline health and social care staff receive ongoing training to understand the needs of LGBT patients, although these policies are devolved in Scotland & Wales meaning the commitment only relates to England.
Lib Dems make a commitment to develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the decriminalisation of homosexuality around the world, where many countries still have British colonial laws banning same-sex relationships.
They also support a new LGBT question in the 2021 Census, extending the protections for LGBT people in the Equality Act to cover companies with more than 250 employees, ending the culture of ‘proof’ for LGBT asylum seekers, committing to a “fair proportion” of health funding to research the impact of poor mental health among LGBT people and projects are funded appropriately, review the blood donation rules for gay and bi men, introduce legislation to allow all-LGBT shortlists in elections and address continuing inequalities for same-sex couples in health services.
The Green Party commit to increase funding for LGBT healthcare, including gender clinics, HIV treatment and mental health provision, and end the ‘opt-out’ of LGBT education in schools, although again these issues are devolved matters in Scotland.
Earlier this month the Equality Network launched an equality pledge online tool, seeking support from election candidates to 5 key commitments for LGBTI equality, including opposition to the roll back of trans rights in the UK.
Stonewall have also published an election manifesto calling on all parties and candidates to go further on LGBT equality.
There has been disappointment on social media, with some feeling the party is leaving them behind. The SNP has been seen as a progressive and supportive party for LGBT rights in the past, but is this changing?
We’ll have more on the election, including the full list of Scottish party manifesto’s once they are all launched in the coming days.