Keiran O’Neill is secretary of LGBT+ Labour is standing to be the Scottish Labour and Co-operative MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn in the 6 May elections.
This week Anas Sarwar launched Scottish Labour’s National Recovery Plan. He was clear to say that it’s not a usual election manifesto. It’s a route map to building a better, fairer and more progressive Scotland from the ashes of COVID-19.
In Anas, Scotland’s LGBT+ community have a phenomenal ally. Not just because he is a passionate advocate for equality, but because he knows what discrimination looks like. He has had to deal with some pretty awful things over his time in public life and he is absolutely resolute that the fight against bigotry and hatred isn’t a fight for any single group, but a fight for all of us. He will make sure that the voices often not heard in our public debate will be at the table and will have a say.
When it comes to our National Recovery Plan, it’s without a doubt the biggest and boldest offer from Labour to the people of Scotland in the history of devolution. But it’s also the most ambitious in terms of LGBT+ rights – certainly in our party’s history.
We are unequivocal in our support for reforming the Gender Recognition Act with an explicit commitment to demedicalise the process, as well as providing legal recognition for non-binary people. It should not have taken this long but we are clear in the next parliament, Labour MSPs will deliver on the promise made to Scotland’s trans and non-binary community by all parties at the 2016 election.
Scottish Labour will outlaw conversion therapy and end the blood ban
We will outlaw the reprehensible practice of conversion therapy in full and without qualification. Unlike Nicola Sturgeon, we won’t posture and partake in a constitutional square go with Boris Johnson over who should do it first. It’s a completely devolved matter and we want to consign conversion therapy to the dustbin of history immediately. The End Conversion Therapy Scotland campaign has done a remarkable job highlighting this often unseen and cruel injustice and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could defend the status quo.
We would also end the discriminatory blood ban, and continue to develop inclusive education building on the trailblazing work of the TIE campaign. I am proud to stand on this programme with my fellow LGBT+ candidates (of which there are more than ever) but also proud of the many LGBT+ activists who fought for these policies within our party. Despite that they kept pushing for equality.
Why you might ask? Well it’s simple, Labour is the party of equality. It’s in our DNA. The Labour movement is born out of the class struggle but it’s also a movement built on the principle of solidarity. Those are principles that our community know the importance of as well, especially as we see some trying to divide us – what they always fail to recognise is that an attack on one is an attack on all.
If we want a fairer and more equal country we have to vote for it. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind the best way to do that is to make it Both Votes Labour on 6 May.