Current Affairs

Scotland: Equality lawyer criticises ‘flawed’ and ‘misleading’ pro-independence LGBT paper

Joseph McCormick September 3, 2014
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A Scottish equality lawyer has criticised the ‘Rainbow Paper’, which was released by Yes Scotland’s LGBT wing, saying it is “misleading”, and that the equality achievements of the UK Supreme Court cannot be downplayed.

The paper was released by Yes Scotland earlier this week and claimed there are seven ways independence would help secure equality for LGBT Scottish people, including “enshrining LGBT equality in a written constitution, securing the power to protect and improve equality law, securing the power to protect spending on LGBT equality measures in public services.”

Edinburgh-based lawyer Daniel Donaldson, who was recently the victim of a hate crime, released a statement criticising the paper, and saying Yes Scotland LGBT was “misleading people.”

He said: “It is important to show a balance here and to not mislead LGBTI people into thinking that the UK is all bad and that an Independent Scotland will be all good, when it comes to protecting and protecting LGBTI human rights.

“It is also disingenuous to say that Scotland has consistency been more progressive than Westminster in terms of LGBTI equality.”

Donaldson said a “fatal flaw” with the arguments put forward in the Rainbow Paper was a call to abolish the UK Supreme Court.

He asks: “Why would anyone want to abolish a Court which has affirmed and defended LGBTI rights, first in terms of LGBTI asylum and refugee status, and then again in terms upholding the non-discrimination provisions of the Equality Act when faced with several challenges by powerful lobby groups.

“This position contrasts with Scotland, where the Scottish Government, under the SNP leadership, sought to water down and exclude Roman Catholic adoption agencies from Equality Law to allow them to discriminate against same-sex couples. Contrast this with that of the UK, which refused to amend the Sexual Orientation Regulations, despite Scottish Government pressure to do so.”

Continuing, Donaldson states that enshrining LGBT protections into a Scottish consitution “is no guarantee that LGBT rights will be protected.”

“Without the UK Supreme Court, which currently protects the rights of LGBTI people, across the UK as a whole, a written Scottish Constitution would be meaningless as the Scottish Courts have adopted a critical and highly conservative interpretation of human rights law. Indeed, there was at least one LGBT Asylum case heard in Scotland which failed.

“The UK, having a wide network of Embassies and Consulates across the World has heavily lobbied for LGBT equality. The UK has the standing in the World to take many of the non-LGBTI friendly countries to task over their human rights record, and this has to be acknowledged.

“There is always room for improvement in any constitutional set-up, where equality and human rights are concerned. However, to completely ignore the accomplishments the UK in this field, and to paint everything in such a negative light, it just plain wrong.

“LGBTI people expect more from both sides of the Scottish Independence debate and I would encourage the YES Scotland campaign not to mislead people and be more honest about the advances made in terms of LGBTI equality and human rights in Scotland as part of the UK.”

Scotland’s Equality Network earlier this week called on the country’s main political parties to outline how the independence question could impact on LGBT rights.

Support for Scottish independence has risen eight points in a month, according to a new poll.

The No camp are now six points ahead of the Yes campaign, down from 14 points in mid-August and 22 points early last month, excluding undecided voters.

The latest YouGov poll found that, excluding ”don’t knows”, 53% of those questioned planned to vote No, while 47% would back Yes.

This compares to 57% for No and 43% for Yes in mid-August and 61% for No and 39% for Yes at the beginning of last month.

Related topics: Better Together, Daniel Donaldson, independence, LGBT, Scotland, Scotland, Scottish, YES Scotland

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