Domestic Abuse of LGBTQ+ People

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament am 1:05 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Paul O'Kane Paul O'Kane Llafur 1:05, 9 Mai 2024

I thank Collette Stevenson for securing today’s debate. Taking time to highlight the problems of domestic abuse, intimate partner violence and the challenges faced by members of the LGBT+ community is vitally important. Those issues demand constant attention and focus to ensure that we continue to progress in the right direction, by making it clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in Scotland and by furthering the rights and equality of LGBT+ people.

The motion references the view that structural inequalities could be prohibiting LGBT+ victims of domestic abuse from coming forward or receiving the support that they need. I will start by addressing those structural inequalities, because there is no doubt in my mind that, of late, the rhetoric in relation to LGBT+ people has become more toxic.

We have come a long way since the days of section 28 and the homophobia of years gone by, but there can be no mistaking—we should not kid ourselves that this is not the case—that homophobia and transphobia are still present in our politics, media and society. Some of the headlines in the press over the past few weeks, and some of the reactions and commentary on them, have crossed the line from nuanced, responsible and sensitive questioning of policy to full-throated stereotypical attacks that are met with hurt and, very often, fear by LGBT+ people across Scotland.

It is those feelings of hurt and fear that very often convince people that they will not be heard or taken seriously and that they are still looked on as other. When we talk about domestic abuse and intimate partner violence, both within and outwith the LGBT+ community, but we still cannot talk in a sensible way about inclusive education and support that treat LGBT+ identities as normal and valid, is it any wonder that we are concerned about the underreporting of the problems that people face? We have heard about some of that already, but it is why education is so important.

Education around domestic abuse and what it means to be LGBT+ in Scotland remains completely vital, and it is why I and many others across the chamber continue to support organisations such as the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, so that we can increase understanding and our support of young people.

There are still too many young LGBT+ people in Scotland who are scared to talk about themselves, their identity and their experiences, because they do not see themselves reflected in their education and in society. Tackling the general stigma faced by LGBT+ people and helping to empower them to speak out need to go hand in hand with tackling the general stigma and fear around domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. I recognise that we have made significant progress in the way that we talk about domestic abuse in the context of violence against women and girls. There is much more to do, and I stand with the work of the Government and the excellent work of organisations such as White Ribbon Scotland, particularly in ensuring that men take responsibility for changing our attitudes and behaviours.

We debate this motion at the beginning of the Government of a new First Minister and Deputy First Minister, and I want to take the opportunity to thank Emma Roddick, who is in the chamber, for all her work in her time as Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, particularly in those areas in which I know that she took a keen interest. I wish her well on the back benches, where I know that she will continue to advocate on all those issues.

I say to the Government that we must not roll back now on the hard-fought rights of LGBT+ people; rather, the Government must show commitment and progress while building a consensus across our country, just as we have done at every milestone for LGBT+ people in the past. As I have said previously in the chamber, we are not going back into the closet, we are not going to hide and we are not going to be ashamed of who we are. I support the calls in the motion for a national LGBT+ domestic abuse strategy to raise awareness and improve services so that they are accessible to everyone in that community, and I call on the Government to reflect on that in its response. We must start the journey of tackling this important issue today.