Creating a fairer Britain
Since October 2007 the Commission has focused on building up its own expertise and knowledge on age, sexual orientation, religion and belief. Internally we set up a working group of staff from policy, research and legal teams to focus on sexual orientation and transgender issues. This has proven to be a very useful forum and allowed us to co-ordinate activity on LGBT issues across the Commission. We have nominated 2 leads in Scotland for LGB people and transgender people; we did this because our stakeholders were clear that the LGBT sector in Scotland works to promote all these voices and that we should reflect this approach in our own work. We are clear that transgender peoples rights are protected in the Gender Equality Duty and we are working to ensure that our enforcement activity specifically addresses LGBT issues. We have also set up an LGB Research Network with academics and policy specialists working on sexual orientation issues to develop expertise, share ideas and promote collaboration in the field. We have also established an LGBT staff network.
We promote an expectation that good practice in equalities means that all equalities issues are addressed. Our own Equality Scheme goes beyond our legal responsibilities and includes all areas of equality. The scheme contains information about how we promote equality in everything we do, from recruiting and employing staff to carrying out our services and public activities.
We recognise the huge range of work that is already undertaken by LGBT organisations in Scotland and we have been clear that it is our intention not to duplicate this work but to develop a programme in partnership with these organisations and others so that we can address longstanding discrimination against LGBT people. The Hearts and Minds Report provided an essential overview of the key issues facing LGBT people in Scotland. We were keen to hear more about the issues from LGBT organisations and stakeholders and held a roundtable meeting in April to identify key policy and research priorities for LGBT people in Scotland which proved invaluable. This has helped shape the direction of the Commissions current work and contributed to the Commissions 3 Year Strategic Plan which will be published in March 2009.
The Commission welcomes the report of the Hearts and Minds Agenda Group and the opportunity to respond its recommendations. The theme of our Business Plan for 2008/2009, Bringing People Together, is particularly pertinent for the recommendations which have been made in the report for the Commission.