‘Love is Love’: LGBTQ Lives and the Fight to Become Scotland’s First Minister

‘Love is Love’, tweeted Ash Regan on the morning of 21 February, posting an image of a heart in the colours of the Scottish saltire. Regan’s tweet was intended as a not-so-subtle dig at her competitor Kate Forbes, who had launched her campaign to become First Minister the previous day. In an interview with Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4 News, Forbes admitted she would have voted against equal marriage when Holyrood passed the Bill in 2014. Forbes went out to detail her opposition to gender self-identification, a comprehensive ending of conversion practices and having children outside of marriage.

Regan is no stranger to making comments on LGBTQ lives – having resigned from the Scottish Government in October 2022 in opposition to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, legislation that would simplify the process for trans people to change the sex marker on their birth certificate. Regan champions a more insidious type of anti-LGBTQ politics that, in recent years, has proven effective in stalling progressive advances related to gender, sex and sexuality – particularly the GRR Bill and wider trans equality issues such as non-binary inclusion in Scotland’s 2022 census.

Just as there are many colours in the rainbow, the SNP leadership contest has revealed multiple ways to express opposition to LGBTQ equalities. As an academic researching LGBTQ lives, the leadership contest has covered a wealth of topics relevant to my work, from same-sex marriage as a ‘settled issue’ to the interests of the child in our imagined future. But – as a gay, married man living in Edinburgh – 2023’s political turn of events is not just theoretical, like many other LGBTQ people I am worried about what comes next.

Kate Forbes

Forbes’ views are shaped by her membership of the evangelical Free Church of Scotland and have provided a masterclass in saying horrible things with a smile on your face. In the 13 March Sky News leadership debate, when asked by presenter Beth Rigby if a gay adult man should be allowed conversion therapy, Forbes responded: ‘Well, it’s his choice but I do not think we should allow conversion therapy’. People can engage in cognitive gymnastics where they hold harmful political positions while detaching the implications of their views from the lives of the individuals they impact. We’ve heard these arguments before: Love the sinner, hate the sin. Love the homosexual, hate the homosexuality. The distinction between ideas and actions might seem logical in a textbook but does not reflect real-world contexts. Forbes’ account of conversion practices ignores the social pressures that condition someone’s ability to consent and contradicts the findings of the government’s Expert Advisory Group on Ending Conversion Practices.

In a 21 February interview with Good Morning Scotland, Forbes hinted at a ‘rights versus rights’ argument in response to her opposition to same-sex marriage. Explaining, ‘I hope that others can be afforded the rights of people of faith to practice fairly mainstream teaching. And that is the nuance that we need to capture on equal marriage’. Forbes’ argument relies on a warped logic of equivalence, in which individuals with anti-LGBTQ views are understood as deserving of equal credibility as those defending their existence. When pitched as a battle of rights versus rights, individuals who call out the imbalance of power – LGBTQ people asked to debate their lives – are framed as opponents of free speech.

Ash Regan

There is more than one way to express opposition to LGBTQ lives. Departing from Forbes’ religious framing, Ash Regan has energised a base with a version of anti-LGBTQ politics that speaks to a populist, conspiratorial wing of the independence movement, often associated with the Alba party and its leader, former First Minister Alex Salmond. The scholars Catherine Nash and Kath Browne have devised a concept – heteroactivism – to describe this manifestation of anti-LGBTQ ideas. Heteroactivism  ‘seeks to reassert heteronormative understandings of home, family and society’ and opposes the ‘impact of the unwanted gains in sexual and gender politics’. Unlike Forbes’ religious extremism, heteroactivism ‘refocuses attention on the types of opposition to LGBT equalities that are not necessarily religious or conservative’. This key difference enables Regan to express support for same-sex marriage, noting her belief that ‘love is love and should be celebrated and supported between consenting adults’, while arguing against efforts to improve the lives of Scotland’s trans population.

Humza Yousaf

The third candidate in the running is Humza Yousaf who has faced extensive questioning from the media about his views on LGBTQ equalities, a likely product of racist assumptions that someone of a Muslim faith holds homophobic opinions. Yet, in response to questions posed by the SNP’s LGBT+ wing Out for Independence, Yousaf wrote, ‘I want members and voters to know that I value and celebrate the relationships and marriages of my LGBTQ friends, just the same as myself and my heterosexual friends. I believe that equal marriage is a fundamental right and core to the equality of our society’. Yousaf’s unequivocal support of LGBTQ equalities is further evidenced by his strong backing from LGBTQ+ SNP parliamentarians.

Future LGBTQ lives in Scotland

There’s been a lot of talk about LGBTQ lives in Scotland. Looking only at developments in the Parliament and Government since 2016, a swell of activity has taken place including work on LGBTI inclusive education, sex and gender data, non-binary equality, census questions on sexual orientation and transgender status/history, efforts to end conversion practices and the GRR Bill.

Forbes has stated in interviews she would ‘not roll back on any rights that already exist in Scotland’. Many of these developments – such as ending conversion practices and non-binary equality – exist as working groups that have produced detailed recommendations for future action. While there is much talk about ideas to improve LGBTQ lives, much of this activity has not yet materialised into concrete actions. By indicating she would vote against future LGBTQ bills – such as a comprehensive ending of conversion practices – Forbes suggests that existing LGBTQ gains are sufficient and 2023 marks a line in the sand for LGBTQ political progress. You can go this far but no further.

A common feature across multiple strains of anti-LGBTQ politics is the interests of the child, who is understood as an exemplar of innocence – a tabula rasa untouched by the politics of ‘gender theory’ and naturally predisposed to a cisgender and heterosexual future. Forbes launched her campaign on 20 February with a short video that concluded with the promise to ‘Lead our party into better days, with integrity and commitment, for the sake of your children and my children’. There is, of course, nothing wrong with arguing that your political vision will benefit the nation’s children but it is equally important to ask how understanding children as our main driver for action warps our vision of the future. The academic Lee Edelman describes this view as ‘reproductive futurism’, in which a fantasy of a future child becomes the centrepiece for how we imagine political possibilities. What about the here and now? Or those who don’t (for whatever reason) contribute to the production of future children?

What does the future hold for us? Much of Scotland’s progress in LGBTQ equalities is unfinished business – 2023 cannot mark the culmination of progress, we need a First Minister who can lead us all towards this better future.

Comments (26)

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  1. Hugh McShane says:

    Interesting linguistic con

  2. Nally Anders says:

    “Much of Scotland’s progress in LGBTQ equalities is unfinished business”

    Thanks to the Equality Act 2010, everyone in the UK has exactly the same rights.
    An article explaining why LGBTQ rights is ‘unfinished’ might have been more helpful.
    What rights are missing?

    1. Derek Williams says:

      1. Conversion ‘Therapy’ is still legal
      2. Religious schools still have the legal right to expel students discovered to be LGBT+
      3. Religious organisations still have the legal right to fire any member of their staff discovered to be LGBT+
      4. Families are still disowning their LGBT+ children
      5. LGBT+ children are still being bullied to the point of suicide in schools

  3. Hugh McShane says:

    The Ash Regan section confirmed my feeling that after the Iraq War, Blair’s biggest crime was the aspiration to 50% graduates- a concatenation of persiflage& self-serving flummery- whoever wrote it did not get on the 57 to Arden!

  4. Hugh Stewart. says:

    I’m concerned about the Scottish government’s paper on “conversion therapy.” This could mean that parents, teachers or other concerned adults may be reluctant to offer fair and balanced advice to young people with gender/puberty anxiety. Surely sensible advice, professional councillors and time to reflect are essential if such young people are to move on and lead healthy lives, both physically and mentally. I hope there will be no attempt to ram any such bill through parliament in Ill-considered haste.

  5. Niemand says:

    A typical travesty of an article that presents a completely warped understanding of those, like Ash Regan (and incidentally, the majority of the population), who wish to uphold women’s sex-based rights, as an ‘express[ed] opposition to LGBTQ lives’, ‘arguing against efforts to improve the lives of Scotland’s trans population’ whilst at the same time ‘energising a base with a version of anti-LGBTQ politics’ speaking to the ‘conspiratorial wing of the independence movement’, and all couched in the frame of ‘heteroactivism’ whatever that is but is obviously BAD.

    This is not the writings of an academic but an activist who clearly has a very strong view on this matter, but like so many such activists, seeks to advance their arguments by false claims, false characterisations, an assumption that gender theory (and yes it is just a theory) is the only theory in town and of you don’t buy it your are a bigot, and a refusal to engage with the complexities of competing rights, instead resorting to baseless ad hominem attacks.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Niemand, well, yes. If the author has a problem with ‘heteronormativity’, I suggest they take it up with Mother Nature.

      You might think there was naturally a diversity of viewpoints in the L*G*B*T constellation, although not from reading Bella.

      The more I look, the stranger things get. Glasgow academics blaming the European Enlightenment for inventing the idea of two ‘opposing’ sexes, for one, while completely writing communism and socialism out of a global history of equality movements.

      I recently read Andy Wightman’s account of why he left the Scottish Green Party: https://andywightman.scot/archives/4634

      And what about the equivalence of anti-science views with science-based ones? Both Orthodox Christianity and this gender identity theory are Soullist. Surely the scientific method is the appropriate and just way of investigating human biology and psychology? Reading these gender ideologues, they hardly seem to accept that humans are animals. No wonder their articles targeting the general public have to be vague, obscure, misdirecting, misrepresentative, riddled with omissions, slippery with words and appeal to self-pleasing fictions while ignoring divisions and bigotry within L*G*B*T.

      1. Derek Williams says:

        I don’t have reliable stats for Scotland, but the most recent US surveys place their transgender population at somewhere between 1-1.4 million people, depending on which study or survey you believe.

        1. Gender Dysphoria has been connected to multiple biological factors such as genetics, changes in brains structure, and prenatal exposure to hormones. (see, for example, “Gender identity disorder in twins: a review of the case report literature”)
        2. Gender Dysphoria may occur as frequently as 1 in 500 people. (see “Prevalence, incidence and sex ratio of transsexualism”)
        3. Twin studies indicate that Gender Dysphoria is 62% heritable, and therefore has a strong genetic influence. (see “The Heritability of Gender Identity Disorder in a Child and Adolescent Twin Sample”)
        4. In male-to-female transsexuals, GID is often associated with genetically-induced androgen insensitivity.
        5. Male-to-female transsexuals have been found to have a typically female stria terminalis (part of the brain), while female-to-male transsexuals have a typically male stria terminalis. (see “A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality”)
        6. In addition, the hypothalamus in male-to-female transsexuals appears to function as a typical woman’s does. (see “Male-to-Female Transsexuals Show Sex-Atypical Hypothalamus Activation When Smelling Odorous Steroids”)

        WPATH, WHO, AMA, AAP, ACS, both APA’s, representing the overwhelming majority of clinicians, researchers, and medical personnel in all related fields, accept that gender is separate from sexual anatomy and that gender identity is inherent. About 1 in 2000 babies are born with ambiguous external genitals, and many adults don’t have ‘typical’ sexual organs either. There are over 80 Intersex conditions that result in cis XY women and XX males, from CAIS to Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

        But if you still believe that gender is binary and fixed, then the following questions should be easy for you to answer:

        1. What gender is a person who looks female externally but who has XY chromosomes? Look up Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. These people are usually raised as female, and very often nobody knows that they have XY chromosomes until puberty or later.
        2. What gender is a person who looks male externally but who has XX chromosomes? Look up Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.
        3. What gender is a person who is XO?
        4. What gender is a person who is XXY?
        5. What gender is a person who has both XX and XY cells scattered throughout their body? Look up chimeras, who are formed from the fusion of two embryos in the uterus.
        6. What gender is a person who has both male and female parts? Look up hermaphrodites.

        Given the massive dislocation caused to a transgender person dealing with this personal discovery, it’s not a reasonable conclusion that it’s something millions of people would actively choose. Why would a biological man choose to become a transgender woman, when the consequences can be so dire in terms of sociological and familial displacement and rejection?

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Derek Williams, and how many of these conditions are, or might be, caused by the chemicals humans are polluting our environment with?
          You rattle off your prepared stock statement, but you don’t address my central point that some gender studies academics are making some wild and unsubstantiated statements as if evidence doesn’t matter.

          But if you want to stick to science, what might the sociobiological functions of non-reproductive sexual behaviours be? What are the key similarities and differences between humans and other animals as you view them in the context of ‘LGBTQ Lives’? Do you view mental health as a factor in any of the behaviours discussed?

          1. Derek Williams says:

            That’s an interesting article, albeit from 17 years ago. There’s a more recent one here:

            You didn’t rise to the challenge of any my questions about variants in gender, and you wrote my entire post off as a rattled-off “prepared stock statement”. Well, at least I bothered to do some research and actually prepare my statement. Make up your mind; is it “prepared” or is it “stock”. If the former, what would be the point of posting an unprepared statement, and if the latter, then please provide a link to the site I allegedly plagiarised it from. After having accused me of rattling off prepared/stock material, you make unsubstantiated generalisations, “some gender studies academics are making some wild and unsubstantiated statements as if evidence doesn’t matter,” without adducing a single source.

            Who knows why people are transgender? Whether it’s chemically induced, or some quirk of parenting, does it really matter, since transgender people clearly don’t wake up one morning and declare, “You know what? I’m gonna be trans.” Being gay or transgender isn’t a decision people make, it’s something find themselves to be – just as you discovered you were cisgender and heterosexual during puberty.

            Most human intercourse is “non-reproductive”, whereas with few exceptions, such as penguins, animals confine themselves to reproductive sex. If you really want to limit human sexual engagement to its obvious reproductive imperative, then it’s pointless having sex for romantic love and emotional engagement. To be clear, if you are a man married to a woman and you both want two kids maximum, then you should have sexual intercourse only twice, and then zip it – any sexual engagement after that has no reproductive value whatsoever.

            Then we can consider a married heterosexual couple over 50 years of age. What is the point of their having sex, if no babies will ensue? Same goes for a heterosexual couple who discover one or other are sterile, making sexual intercourse pointless, if you’re going down the “sex is for reproduction” path.

            It’s all very well to say, “stick to the science”, which, by the way, is exactly what I have done, but how about posting some “science” from credible, reliable sources that supports your claims?

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Derek Williams, thank you for your response, which you’ve obviously put more effort into than most.

            I was interested in why an old Guardian article came so high in my Internet search, when one might have thought that this issue of chemical, radiological and biological pollutants would only be getting much worse. Searching a bit further, there seems to be an odd lack of synthesis in popular science media (Nature.com has a bunch of papers but I couldn’t find a summary article), although I did find this (but I don’t know this organisation):
            What are hormone disrupting chemicals (or endocrine disrupting chemicals, EDCs)?

            You say, “Who knows why people are transgender? Whether it’s chemically induced, or some quirk of parenting, does it really matter”, which seems oddly lacking in scientific curiosity, not to mention blithely unconcerned that chemical pollutants, weird parenting, or some of the other potential causes that scientists have claimed in the UK about GIDS (including manipulation of traumatised, autistic and/or same-sex-attracted young people by an ideological insider group). The three-eyed fish in The Simpsons may be a diversity icon for all I know, but polluting our environment with bioactive chemicals is a public and environmental health endangerment, not a cause for celebration.

            Since when was subjectivity a primary driver for science and public policy? Sure, society can accommodate cosplay, kinks and cant, but there is no scientific basis for claiming that a woman can become a man, or a man become a woman. This is species-dependent; some individuals from other species apparently can change sex, although presumably not for subjective reasons.

            Neuroplasticity has been detected now in humans well into their twenties. Children and vulnerable people are generally assigned safeguarding policies or cultural practices from socially-identified threats, such as pornography, psychoactive drugs and gambling; but unfortunately protection is usually insufficient. We live in a fast-changing technologically-enhance world, and many of these threats are little understood or insufficiently researched. You rightly mention bullying, which can affect any child (and be conducted by virtually any child). I would also say there is a dangerous consumer-capitalist/wellness-industry ideology of living-one’s-best-life, be-who-you-want-to-be, which creates intolerably unrealistic expectations and damaging image-related pressures for many young people.

            You seem to have mistaken my genuine, scientific question about the “sociobiological functions of non-reproductive sexual behaviours” for a rhetorical question (not sure how). I don’t know the full answer to this, of course, but certainly there are pair-bonding elements we see in other animals, but also recreational and other functions. Not all sexual activity is healthy, whether reproductive or non-reproductive, and generally society will develop norms and rules to govern it (which may themselves be unhealthy). Some aspects of health are contentious, others can be more objectively assessed. Angela Saini (Inferior…) asks why, unlike so many other animals, human women experience menopause and can live many years after becoming infertile; one potential benefit of this is suggested by the Grandmother Hypothesis. However, an obvious sociobiological function for non-reproductive alternative behaviour is related to population control. In an overpopulated world (a view rejected by Orthodox Christians like the extremist World Congress of Families), non-reproductive behaviours that don’t damage the living world are generally to be welcomed (preferable to war, starvation, pestilence etc.).

            I wish I could provide a link to the Glasgow genderists’ views (I’m working on it). There is clearly a difficulty for the general public in finding out what is taught in classrooms and lecture halls. The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of these claims seem to be based on a Postmodernist style of rhetorical conjuring of a thing into existence (like ‘heteroactivism’) without rigour or candour or an evidence base. For example, the Glasgow genderists use terms like ‘heteropatriarchy’ and ‘masculine hegemony’ as if these concepts applied across the whole of world history and culture, described in a vague and obscure way, then taken as true (givens) for later development of their ideas, and when evidence is occasionally resorted to, it is crudely cherry-picked. Having lately studied some recent historical works and courses, these approaches contrast greatly, and the genderists’ omissions are starkly obvious (but maybe not to people without a more developed grasp of history and social movements).

            Your approach, on the other hand, is far easier to pin down and relate to the real world (the objective reality which some Postmodernists deny when it suits them), which makes a pleasant change.

    2. Derek Williams says:

      Your catch-phrase “competing rights” is False Balance fallacy, i.e. the right of LGBT+ people to exist, versus the right of the Right to deny our existence. Religious schools already have the legal right to fire LGBT+ staff because they are LGBT+; they have the legal right to expel an LGBT+ student for the same reason, yet they want to exert their animus further. At the heart of their belief lies the lie that if you make life miserable enough for LGBT+ people they’ll see the error of their ways, and turn into cisgender heterosexuals.

      If you really want to continue down the “competing rights” line, how about competing rights of different religions? Among the world’s 45,000 conflicting Christian denominations, the Catholic Church is opposed to remarriage after a no-fault divorce, artificial birth control, ordination of women and same-sex marriage between LGBT+ people, teaching that all four of these are mortal sins, i.e. acts that will lead the perpetrators thereof to burn for trillions of years in “The Lake of Scalding Sulphur”. Yet the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, the Methodists, and internationally dozens more, including many Jewish synagogues now welcome LGBT+ people as parishioners with full access to sacraments, including ordination to the clergy and same-sex marriage. Who’s to say whose god is right? Are there 45,000 Christian gods each of whom hates the same people his parishioners do, or is there one god, playing favourites with Scottish Episcopalians? You can’t have it both ways.

      1. WT says:

        Derek – no offense but this is complete nonsense. Have a look at the actual position of each church on these issues rather than amplifying false accounts. There are many reasons why a religious group takes a position on a subject, often it is based on an interpretation of what is in the, Torah, the bible or the Koran. Have you read any of these books? I’m not being facetious here, it is important to read them to understand the interpretations that can be taken from them. These religious groups are not a reacting to ‘modern ideas’ it is their faith. I’m not one of them, but at least give them their due, they have stayed consistent to their views. It is not that long ago that the secular view held that LGBTQ lifestyles were criminal, thankfully, that has changed but to expect churches to change because of that is ridiculous it is like expecting communism to move with the times and accept capitalism as part of communist ideology. Also, Religious schools do not have the legal right to expel students discovered to be LGBT+ and religious organisations do not have the legal right to fire any member of their staff discovered to be LGBT+ – where you get that from I don’t know. They can expel people for behaviour, but so can any organisation.

        1. Derek Williams says:

          Religious schools legally can and routinely do refuse to admit students because of their sexual orientation, and can , or expel them if that orientation conflicts with their religious belief; same goes for hiring and firing LGBT staff.: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/discrimination-because-of-sex-or-sexual-orientation/discrimination-because-of-sexual-orientation/
          “There are some circumstances where an employer is allowed to treat you unfavourably because of your sexual orientation. If an employer can show that you need to be of a particular sexual orientation in order to do a certain job, they can insist on employing someone of that sexual orientation. This is known as an occupational requirement and does not count as discrimination. An example of an occupational requirement is where the employers of a religious Minister insist that they can’t employ a transgender person or a gay man in order to avoid offending the religious convictions of the religion’s followers.”

          As for “giving credit to religions for remaining consistent to their views”, in the US, the most recent Gallup Poll on Americans accepting interracial marriage shows that while the overwhelming majority of US citizens now have no problem with this, 13% still oppose miscegenation, many on religious grounds. This means that roughly 45 million Americans would refuse service to an interracial couple if they could get away with it. This includes bakeries, photographers, printers, hotel accommodation, florists, wedding rental car services and the like. Should they have been allowed to remain “consistent to their views”, and be legally entitled to refuse service?

          Note that in the majority of US states, all such venues legally still can, and still do refuse service to same-sex couples.

          Concerning your question, “Have I read religious books?” I don’t know the Qu’ran, but I believe that it does not condemn LGBT” people. However I do know the Bible pretty well, having been raised in a Christian household, and having studied it in more detail to verify claims it condemns LGBT+ people. I can confirm that the Bible supports slavery, and that it commands parents to arrange to have their sons executed by a mob if they are rude to their parents or disobey them. If you want chapter and verse, that’ll follow in another post if you want to stay in the saddle. However there is no record that Jesus of Nazareth ever condemned LGBT+ people or same-sex relationships. He was more concerned with condemning religous fundamentalism of the Sadducees and Pharisees, hypocrisy and greed for personal wealth at the expense of the sick and the poor. I daresay the majority of LGBT+ people have no problem with these teachings of Jesus himself, and many are self-professing Christians. However, heterosexual couples who divorce and remarry should take note that Jesus declared this to be adultery, a mortal sin punishable by trillions of years of immolation in The Lake of Scalding Sulphur. All that you wil find in the New Testament.

          1. WT says:

            First of all ab apology taking so long to reply to you Derek. I too have read the Bible and I am aware of the dreadful behaviours you refer to. However, regarding LGBTQ students you are wrong and indeed the same with employment. The quote you give from CA refers and uses the example of religious functionaries. For example a trans woman might not be able to be one a Catholic Priest – fair enough in my book. I’m willing to be convinced about students at a religious school – a couple of examples would be useful. I could point out that a number of Christians have lost their jobs for their views – easy to find, Google it. As for the Koran – I was lucky enough to be taken into the Muslim community in Birmingham and was treated very kindly even though I was not religious, I accompanied my friends to the Mosque regularly, an I can tell you that their view was that homosexuality was a crime and an abomination. Punishment was severe, let’s put it that way. Similarly, in the Bible homosexuality is an abomination as you know. Now, how this relates to Kate Forbes I don’t know, and neither do you. She is a Christian that’s all you and I know. That’s it. I can’t see inside her heart. My main problem with your polemic is that it comes from a very personal stance lacking understanding or empathy with the views of others. I also think that as a researcher evidence has to underpin interpretation but in your piece you just make assumptions and that is not fair.

          2. Derek Williams says:

            Being openly LGBT+ is grounds for refusal of admission and for expulsion of students from certain religious schools, and grounds for dismissal for staff in such schools. A Catholic school will not employ a teacher married to someone of the same sex, and would fire them if this happened during tenure. These rights are protected by religious exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation, and to be realistic, who would want to learn or work in such institutions in the first place? An adult teacher can perhaps find another job if they’re fired, but the problem comes when a child enrolled in a religious school is taught that what they are is “an abomination”. As an alternative to expulsion, some may be subjected to a psychological torture benignly spruiked as ‘Conversion Therapy’, which is nothing short of child-abuse.

            As regards my personal experience, I am happy to acknowledge that I have not been discriminated against, nor rejected by family, friends, colleagues or employers, and the majority of my friends are practising Christians and Jews whose church welcomes LGBT+ parishioners. It is thus for others I speak.

            Being gay is not “my view” and I am not “an abomination”; it is the way I was born, and I can’t change it. Why should I have “empathy” with those who would think that of me?

      2. Niemand says:

        Deny your existence? What are you talking about? You have misrepresented the argument exactly as I described.

        Anyone who has strong doubts about self-ID is not denying your existence. That is what Ash Regan and many others have concerns about: current sex-based rights being removed. There is no false balance – you lead it down a path that is not relevant. And this article actually has the gall to say it is anti-LGBT in its entirety which is even more ludicrous: I think current protections for women based on their sex should be maintained means I am homophobic? No sensible person would suggest that any more than they would say it is denying a trans person’s existence. What we now call trans has probably been a factor of humanity as long as civilisation has existed. What some people object to is the very recent theoretical basis some have put forward for it. They don’t agree with it. It is theory, not fact.

        1. Derek Williams says:

          What can cisgender women no longer do that they previously were able to do, if transgender women achieve legal recognition? Conversely, the same for cisgender and transgender males?

          It is not good for a transgender person’s physical and mental health to be banned from participation in sports, and telling transgender girls they’re only allowed to play male-only sports, that they hate, and don’t have the physical build for, is not reasonable.

    3. Dissenter says:

      Well said. The covert misogyny in a section of the Trans movement is increasingly being challenged. That is pro-woman, not anti-Trans.

  6. Tom Ultuous says:

    The Tories under Theresa May were on the verge of introducing legislation similar to Scotland’s before Johnson took over and joined his gutter press allies in weaponising the subject and rallying the right-wing sheep to the cause. Most of what you see is just smoke and mirrors to deflect from the failings of the Tory govt and destroy the Scottish independent movement. Had May’s Brexit deal been passed (if only) most of the Scottish govt’s reforms to the GRA would’ve been law in the UK before Scotland and none of this would’ve happened. Take a look at the snippets below. The Tory govt MoJ was effectively arguing it would be OK to send Isla Bryson to a women’s prison in 2021.

    It’s disappointing the number of independence supporters who swallowed the bait. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the union jack waving ‘Sturgeon Out’ mob. The deluge of anti-trans propaganda from the gutter press (Telegraph in particular) was worthy of the Nazis. There was even a Telegraph “journalist” wrote an article boasting about his part in Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation. Of course he omitted the part he played in the murder of the 16 year old trans girl.

    This is what we’re up against.
    Independence related articles on MSN since referendum date announced
    Anti-Neutral-Pro = 365-13-13.
    If we can be suckered that easily then independence is dead and buried.

    From a 2021 BBC article entitled ‘Trans women in female jails policy lawful, High Court rules’
    [It is lawful for transgender women to be housed in female jails in England and Wales, the High Court has ruled. A female prisoner, known as FDJ, had challenged the Ministry of Justice over aspects of the policy.
    She claimed she had been sexually assaulted by a trans prisoner but the MoJ did not say whether it accepted this alleged incident had taken place. The judge ruled barring all trans women from female prisons would ignore their right to live as their chosen gender. Women’s prisons can house inmates who were born male but identify as female, regardless of whether they have gone through any physical transformation or have obtained a gender recognition certificate. The MoJ argued the policy pursued a legitimate aim, including “facilitating the rights of transgender people to live in and as their acquired gender (and) protecting transgender people’s mental and physical health”.]

    From a Guardian article in 2021
    High court for England and Wales.
    ‘Lawful to imprison trans women sexual offenders in female jails, judge rules’.
    “The court heard that in 2019 there were 163 trans prisoners in England and Wales, 81 of whom had been convicted of one or more sexual offences. Of the 163, 34 were held in women’s prisons.
    Between 2016 and 2019, a total of 97 sexual assaults were recorded in women’s prisons, of which seven appeared to be committed by trans prisoners without a GRC. It is not known whether any were committed by trans women with a GRC but the number of trans prisoners with a GRC across all jails is thought to be in single figures.”

  7. Tom Ultuous says:

    Forgot to say
    On the 17th January Scotland’s colonial governor Alistair Jack blocked Scottish govt GRA reforms. On Jan 23rd this appeared on the gov uk site ‘Update on changes to transgender prisoner policy framework’. If you read it, you’ll understand that there was nothing that happened in Scotland that couldn’t legally have happened in England or Wales and still can as they’re now only acting on this to avoid accusations of hypocrisy.

  8. WT says:

    Hello Kevin, you are too wrapped up in a view of the world that is non-mainstream. I never describe myself by my sexuality and I wonder why it is that some people do. Hello I’m Tom and I’m gay, Hi I’m Mary and I’m bisexual, Hi I’m Hiram and I’m heavily into Sadomasochism. As a non-academic living a life constrained by laws I did not create, the leadership contest has covered few topics relevant to my life, but covered many topics irrelevant to my life from same-sex marriage as a ‘settled issue’ to the interests of the child in our imagined future. As a married man living in Scotland – 2023’s political turn of events is not just theoretical, like many other people I am worried about what comes next – particularly after what has come before. Get out of your box and have a look around, people are scrabbling about trying to make ends meet. We have had equality of rights and opportunity for many years, time to stop splitting the working class through identity politics and start fighting the real enemy.
    PS As a researcher you make an awful lot of assumptions in your analysis of Forbes and Regan’s statements. What happened to rigour?

    1. Hugh McShane says:

      Spot on WT- the more one looked at the SNP during lockdown+ post the stitch-up, we realised the unrepresentative nature of its MP’s + MSP’s- Calton Jock had a piece a year ago on the MP’s- what’s worse is the parties cross- infect one another on seeming/ looking to be ‘progressive’, but heavily loaded to sexuality- the list-loading fix by the SNP being the worst example, encouraging spurious ‘disabilities’ etc. I’m 100% sure we’re not best served by virtue-signalling diversity of this type- the groupthink that fostered this has bitten deep. The Goodwin guy, getting msm exposure is on to this – one doesn’t need to be a caricature Trumpian/Faragiste populist to feel the elected elites scripts have diverged too far from the mainstream..

    2. Derek Williams says:

      Yes, straight people most certainly DO “announce publicly that they’re straight” the moment they kiss their spouse or mention them in an interview. Straight people don’t merely “announce” their sexuality, they flaunt it.

      Straight people are free to celebrate their sexuality every day of every week of every year. A heterosexual man can walk down any street in any city of any country in the world, and hold his wife’s hand, and no-one will attack him for it. Heterosexual relationships are the subject of every work of art, music, theatre, dance, literature, television and film. Heterosexual couples freely hold public ceremonies, called “weddings” in which they declare their sexual orientation for each other, alongside lewd jokes from the ‘Best Man’, and drive off in a car with “Just Married” in the rear window, and tin cans jangling on the street, announcing their sexual orientation loudly to the world. As a heterosexual, cisgender couple, you won’t be refused a wedding cake, photography or printing services, flowers, a bridal car, or a hotel room merely because you are a heterosexual couple. When you get to the honeymoon suite in the hotel for your honeymoon, the ENTIRE STAFF know what’s going on between the new Husband and Wife. You get your photo in the ‘Just Married’ section of the local newspaper, and can freely sleep in the same bed without fear of arrest by the police. When you apply for a job, or a place to live, you don’t have to hide the fact that you’re straight for fear of dismissal or eviction.

      Now, please consider that all of the above have been denied to LGBT+ people for centuries. Even in countries where we have equal rights, we still risk being fired, evicted, denied an education, medical treatment, transportation, and insurance. There is a constant pressure to roll back our rights, particularly in Russia and the USA and we remain at constant risk of being assaulted.

      In no conceivable sense is there any equivalence between our situation and yours.

      1. WT says:

        Derek first of all thanks for taking the time to reply to my comments and again apologies for the late response. I can tell from your tone that you genuinely feel the alienation from being able to participate in the mainstream celebration of being a couple. I disagree with you on this as I see many same sex people walking hand in hand as it were. Forgive me for being really pedantic fir a second but heterosexual couples couldn’t publicly display their emotions either until the sixties and that varied throughout the regions of nations of the UK. A generality but the further north the harder it was. If you remember the sixties you weren’t there they say, but in fact if you remember the sixties chances are you lived outside of London. LGBTQ people already have the same rights as the rest of the community, people might attack them as you say, but I too have been beaten to a pulp on occasions as I had long hair, and have still in the last ten years been called hippie scum – for someone else it could be a piercing, a tattoo, whatever. People attack people for a variety of reasons that I find bizarre, the issue is not LGBTQ it is violence against the person because they don’t fit. Try not to see things only through the prism of identity, that is the weapon they use to fracture class consciousness. Divide us and let us fight a ongst ourselves. Look at it – race, sexuality, gender, deserving and undeserving – they weaponise us against each other. Come out of the box they have put you in, fight the real enemy.

        1. Derek Williams says:

          My response appears to have fallen on deaf ears, and I invite you to read it again. Cisgender heterosexual people are represented in every aspect of theatre, film and social intercourse – you’re so surrounded by privilege, you can’t see the wood for the trees.

          As I have answered elsewhere in this thread, my comments are not intended to describe my personal situation, which is untroubled by discrimination, but to address your criticism of LGBT+ people publicly identifying as such. You are suggesting you don’t declare your sexuality, without comprehending that you don’t have to, because it is assumed, and self-evident. Husbands and wives do not have to hide their heterosexual relationship, while huge numbers of LGBT+ still do, some for fear of “honour killing”. You may find this paper interesting: https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/religious-and-catholic-ethics/resources/killing-in-the-name-of-god/

          I agree we now have complete equality in this country, thanks to a century of activism and goodwill from the majority of Britons, but we’re a long way away from being able to reap the benefits, such as being able to hold our partner’s hand walking down the street without looking over our shoulder for fear of violence. I know acceptance is generational, and what we have now would have been unthinkable in the 1950’s when I was born, but “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”.

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