COVID-19 and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans (LGBT+) Life in Scotland

Taylor, Yvette (2021) COVID-19 and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans (LGBT+) Life in Scotland. Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

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The effects of the COVID-19 on the LGBT+ population in Scotland merit attention. This group reports continued inequalities, including across health, educational, employment and social settings, and these are often compounded the pandemic. In contextualizing LGBT+ lives in Scotland, the Equality Act 2010, enshrining ‘protected characteristics’, forms an important backdrop, necessitating attention to intersecting inequalities of sexuality, gender, age, disability, parental and partner status, race and religion. Sexuality and gender often remain at the fore of public debates and are central to policy making, exemplified in the Scottish Government’s commitment to LGBT inclusive education, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, ongoing engagement around improving the Gender Recognition Act, and the banning of conversion therapy. Post-pandemic recovery plans should consider the continuation and resourcing of such plans and engagements, instilling confidence in a commitment to LGBT+ equality. Divergences within and between LGBT+ individuals, as well as commonalities and differences from non-LGBT individuals, deserve more attention. While more LGBT+ research and policy making is increasingly speaking of adopting an ‘intersectional’ lens to inequality, often class and race receive less attention. LGBT+ individuals should be central to the discussions of intersectional inequalities as they are able to inform policy-making and often act with resilience and creativity. There may be many things which can be learned from LGBT+-based forms of organizing and activism (including Mutual Aid initiatives, ‘families of choice’ networks etc.). While taking full account of social, cultural and economic factors putting LGBT+ individuals ‘at risk’, care needs to be taken not to pathologize this group. Specific social spheres present problems: across these, social benefits, visibility and recognition may be afforded to more normative identities. Post-recovery plans have a unique chance to consider what sort of ‘normal’ we want to go back to, or move away from, as an LGBT+ inclusive society. This briefing is based on qualitative research, including 60 interviews and 30 postcard exercises with LGBT+ individuals across Scotland. It draws on international and Scottish based literature. More research is needed to diversify representations and understand realities of LGBT+ life in and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.