Pride comes amid a huge year of social change for LGBT+ in Scotland

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As the LGBT+ community in Scotland celebrates Pride, 2022 has seen huge moments of social change.

From shifts in attitude by the nation’s largest religious body to major sporting moments, there’s a lot to celebrate, including the return of the Pride Marches.

The events give LGBT+ people the chance to come together to protest, campaign and celebrate, and for many they will provide the first chance to come together as a community since the pandemic began in 2020.

Here’s a look at some of those key moments:

Church of Scotland allows ministers to perform same-sex marriages

After years of discussion and debate, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has approved a motion allowing ministers to become celebrants in same-sex marriages and to use churches to hold ceremonies.

In the final vote, participants backed the move 2-1, showing overwhelming support.

Work on the change began in 2018. Since then there have been several votes on exactly what role ministers could play in same-sex marriages and ultimately whether they should.

Campaigners for the move, including the Church of Scotland’s publicly gay first minister, the Reverend Scott Rennie, called the historic decision “remarkable”.

Reverend Scott Rennie is the first gay clergyman in the Church of Scotland.Scott Rennie
Reverend Scott Rennie is the first gay clergyman in the Church of Scotland.

The Church of England has so far refused to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, but is reconsidering and is expected to draw up plans later this year.

Ban on conversion therapies

Plans for a total ban on gay conversion therapy are backed by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee.

The Scottish government has previously pledged to ban conversion therapy – the process by which attempts are made to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity – by the end of 2023.

Before formulating their recommendations, MSPs listened to and read dozens of personal accounts of people’s experiences. Many have spoken of the damage and injuries the so-called treatment has caused.

In the Queen’s Speech, the UK government pledged a similar ban in England and Wales, but ruled out attempts to change someone’s gender identity, leaving transgender people unprotected against any change in the law.

Gender Recognition Reform

A bill setting out changes to the Gender Recognition Act is making its way to Holyrood.

If adopted, trans people will have an easier time changing the “legal sex” on their birth certificate.

Noah Halpin was able to declare his gender in Ireland.STV News
Noah Halpin was able to declare his gender in Ireland.

The minimum age to apply would become 16 years old instead of 18, people would no longer need a psychiatric diagnosis or medical evidence, and applicants would have to prove that they have been living according to their sex for three months instead of two years.

If allowed, the changes would bring Scotland in line with other European countries such as Iceland and the Republic of Ireland, where the self-declaration model has been in place since 2015.

The proposals are not without controversy, with women’s groups worried about compromising women’s spaces.

Visibility in sport

There have been significant moments for LGBT+ athletes around the world.

At the start of Pride month, two referees became the first actors in Scottish football to come out publicly since Justin Fashanu, who played for Airdrie and Hearts in the mid-1990s.

Match officials Craig Napier and Lloyd Wilson followed 17-year-old Blackpool striker Jake Daniels, who became the first British professional footballer to go out while playing.

Craig Napier is one of two referees to have declared his homosexuality.SNS group
Craig Napier is one of two referees to have declared his homosexuality.

Lia Thomas has become the first trans athlete to claim a National Collegiate Athletic Association title in America. Lia finished first in the women’s 500 yard freestyle. Its success has put trans athletes, as well as governing bodies, in the spotlight, with many debating how competitions might be organized in the future.

Closer to home, Bruce Mouat led the men’s curling team to silver at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Pride is back!

After the pandemic put an end to all Pride celebrations in Scotland, organizers promise the return parades will be bigger and better than ever. At least 15 major Prides are scheduled for 2022.

Pride parades will take place this summer.STV News
Pride parades will take place this summer.

Pride Edinburgh will finally celebrate its 25th anniversary (two years late) on June 25. Thousands are expected to take to the streets of the capital for Scotland’s longest running Pride Parade. Shetland and Fife hold their events on July 2, ahead of Glasgow’s second celebration – Mardi-Gla – on July 16.

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