Tom French: Hogmanay turning point for LGBTI rights

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The announcement this week that the first same-sex weddings in Scotland will take place on Hogmanay was a milestone moment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

For same-sex couples across the country it was the go-ahead they needed to set a date and start planning their big day. For all LGBTI people, it was the important news that within a matter of weeks they will finally have an equal right to marry the person they love, and to celebrate that commitment in front of family and friends in the exact same way as anyone else.

December 31, 2014 will be a date that is remembered in Scotland for many years to come.

It will be a day of celebration, but also a profoundly emotional day both for those couples getting married and for every LGBTI person who grew up in a country where being gay was still criminalised until 1981. When the Equality Network was established by Scottish LGBTI equality activists in 1997 no country in the world had same-sex marriage, and Scotland – like the rest of the UK – had many laws that discriminated against LGBTI people, but few that recognised or protected our rights.

After many years of campaigning Scotland has changed dramatically for the better.

We are now a leader on LGBTI equality with one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.

While there is still more to do to ensure that LGBTI people have full equality in their everyday lives, we can be proud that when the bells chime this Hogmanay Scotland will bring in the new year as a fairer and more equal country.

Tom French is Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Equality Network, Scotland’s national LGBTI equality and human rights charity