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Scotland is considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality.

In its 2015 Rainbow Map, the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe) ranked Scotland as the most inclusive for LGBTI equality and human rights legislation (it met 92% of the ILGA's 48-point criteria).

This is largely the result of the introduction of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 and the inclusion of intersex as part of our equality approach.

Our record on LGBTI equality includes:

  • being the first country in the UK to consult on introducing same-sex marriage
  • being the first country to host a Transgender and Intersex Conference (in 2014). We provided funding for the conference which brought together people from across the UK and Ireland who are working to improve transgender and intersex equality
  • supporting Pride House Glasgow, a venue that welcomed LGBTI athletes, fans and their allies during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It was the first Pride House to receive government support, and it had the Minister for Sport as a patron


We introduced:

Our partners

We work with a range of organisations to promote equality of opportunity and inclusion for LGBTI people, including:

We consult with communities through LGBTI organisations to help develop our understanding of the ways in which discrimination and prejudice affect LGBTI people's lives. And to encourage people to help us develop policy that addresses them.


We provide funding for LGBTI organisations to help improve the lives of LGBTI communities in Scotland, increase access to services and promote equality.

Details about future funding will be available when it is announced.

Scottish Transgender Alliance's Equal Recognition campaign

In summer 2014 the Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) set out its campaign for equal recognition, which calls for:

  • the process for getting legal gender recognition to be simplified
  • a reduction in the age at which applications for gender recognition can be made
  • the introduction of legal recognition for people who do not identify as male or female (non-binary)

We are giving careful consideration to the issues raised as part of the Equal Recognition Campaign.

Any changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 would require both primary legislation and full consultation beforehand.

Intersex equality

Intersex people are born with variations to their chromosomal composition, reproductive system or genitals that mean they are neither clearly male nor female.

Intersex people face some similar equality issues to trans people, but they also face specific intersex-related equality and human rights concerns.

In April 2014 we added intersex equality to our approach to sexual orientation and gender equality.

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation describes who a person is attracted to. This can be heterosexual (opposite sex), homosexual (same sex), bisexual (both sexes) or asexual (a lack of sexual attraction to others).

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The percentage of the population whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual is unknown as this information is not formally collected through official routes.

Estimates are that homosexual and bisexual people make up around 5% to 7% of the population, although this is widely thought to be a conservative figure.

Gender identity/reassignment

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.

Gender reassignment is the process where a person's identity is brought closer into alignment with the gender with which they identify (their acquired gender).

Transgender people can get full legal recognistion of their acquired gender by applying for a full gender recognition certificate.

The Equality Act 2010 provides protection to transgender people who are proposing to undergo, are undergoing, or have undergone part of a gender reassignment process.

Increasing understanding about gender identity/reassignment in the Scottish Government

One of our equality outcomes has a focus on transgender equality: 'to work with the Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) to increase the level of understanding of issues of gender identity/reassignment as it relates to relevant policy areas – to have a programme outlined by the end of 2013 with implementation through to 2017.'

We held six transgender awareness sessions between May and June 2014. They were tailored for different policy areas: public finance, business and enterprise, health and social care, housing and sport, justice, education, children and families, equality, human rights and third sector.

The aim of the sessions was to promote in-depth discussion of the transgender issues that are particularly relevant to each policy area.

In December 2015 we carried out a survey to measure the sessions' impact and in April 2016 we held two focus groups to find out:

  • how participants were using their knowledge of transgender equality
  • what would help mainstream transgender equality across the Scottish Government

NHS Scotland's Gender Reassignment Protocol (GRP)

In July 2012 we approved the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol (GRP) and sent it to NHS Boards for implementation.

The GRP applies to primary and secondary care services and sets out the gender reassignment treatment that transgender people in Scotland are entitled to.

Its purpose is to provide a clear and consistent treatment pathway that is fair, effective, patient-focused and timely.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance (STA) held focus groups across Scotland to identify transgender people's views on NHS gender reassignment services as part of the Scottish Government protocol audit.

These focus groups will inform a report to the Scottish Government on the implementation of the protocol and the improvements still needed.

The results of the STA's Trans Mental Health Study and Scottish Trans Health Conference Report have been used in training for NHS staff and to push, in particular, for better NHS gender reassignment services.

Homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying

Our National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People aims to ensure that agencies and communities are jointly focused on addressing all types of bullying, including prejudice-based bullying.

The approach is being refreshed to ensure that it:

  • remains current
  • reflects policy and legislative developments
  • is in line with the legal framework outlined in the Equality Act 2010
  • captures findings from the recent respectme research, Bullying in Scotland 2014

The refreshed guidance will be published later this year.

We established and fund respectme, Scotland's anti-bullying service. It is managed and delivered in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland and Scottish Association for Mental Health.

It works with all adults who work with children and young people to give them the practical skills and confidence to deal with all types of bullying behaviour, wherever it occurs, and for whatever reason.

A toolkit, Dealing with Homophobia and Homophobic Bullying in Scottish Schools, was developed to help teachers to recognise, challenge and reduce homophobia and homophobic bullying in their schools.

We also supported development of Stonewall's FIT DVD, a highly successful play for schools aimed at addressing homophobic bullying. Copies of the DVD were sent to every secondary school in Scotland.

Statistics and research