Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hailed the country’s progress on LGBT rights, at the beginning of LGBT History Month.

LGBT History Month, which runs in the UK throughout February, aims to raise awareness of diversity and equality – both by celebrating forgotten LGBT rights heroes, and reminding of the legacy of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

In a statement, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said: “I have always been committed to making Scotland a fair and equal society for all, and we are making great strides in doing so for the LGBT community.

“We have seen a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly and the introduction of hate crime legislation extended to cover LGBT people; Scotland was also the first country in Europe to provide national government funding to a transgender rights project, and Scotland has its own standalone Gender Reassignment Protocol.

“Same sex marriage is now legal and I took great pride in not only leading the consultation on marriage for same sex couples, but also attending one of the very first same sex marriage ceremonies in Scotland.

“That decision challenges the negative attitudes that still exist today towards LGBT people, and shows love is love regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.

“The Scottish Government has strongly supported LGBT History Month since 2005 and it provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made, but also look to the future and what more can be achieved.

“Continuing to address the barriers that exist for LGBT people in Scotland and ensuring that everyone has the same chances to participate in every aspect of life is, for me, the most effective way of making sure that each and everyone one of us benefits from the diversity this fantastic country and its people has to offer.”

UK Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has also released a message of support.

He said: “LGBT History Month is a wonderful opportunity for us all to celebrate LGBT’s contribution to society and promote a more equal and diverse society which benefits us all.

“The Liberal Democrats have been steadfast in campaigning for LGBT equality and inclusion working with a variety of organisations to make sure that a multiplicity of voices are heard and considered in Westmister and beyond.

“The last Parliament marked a historic step in challenging the status quo. The Equal Marriage Act driven by the Liberal Democrats in Government was celebrated up and down the country but it is not always just the big things that count.

He continued: “We have been calling for proper sex ed in schools, an end to discrimination against transgender individuals by the state and better representation of LGBT individuals in public life.

“This change will not come overnight but I am certain that with a coalition of organisations, activists, politicians and public personalities all working together with common purpose change will come.

“As a Liberal Democrat, one of my most deeply held beliefs is that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their ambitions and become anything they want to be.

“I want to finish by congratulating everyone who has worked tirelessly to put together an exciting programme of events and wish you a very successful and enjoyable month.”