Wed 8 Nov, 2017

Patrick Harvie MSP

Glasgow
Finance, Economy, Fair Work, Equalities

Website

Growing up in the 80s, I came out less than a decade after the partial decriminalisation of gay and bisexual men in Scotland. Leaving school at 18, I knew that the age of consent was still 21. Though arrest and prosecution seemed unlikely, we could never help but be aware that they were a possibility even for ordinary, consenting relationships between young adults.

I left for university in Manchester, which was a magnet for queer people throughout the UK, only to discover that “God’s cop” James Anderton was using his position as Chief Constable to pursue his religious extremist agenda with aggressive policing and unprovoked raids on gay venues.

Just ten years later I was an LGBT youth worker back in Glasgow, and I encountered shock and puzzlement from young people growing up without even knowing that same-sex relationships had ever been criminalised in this way. That’s a failing of our teaching of history of course, but it’s also a sign of how rapid the progress toward equality had been.

Yet past progress is never guaranteed; setbacks can happen too. So the First Minister’s apology, echoed by opposition parties, represents more than just one important moment. It represents a shared commitment to continue the journey.

There are those who won’t welcome this. Some because they think an apology by one generation for the immoral acts which preceded it is meaningless. This attitude fails to recognise the continuity of society, and the role of the government and parliament of the day in acknowledging responsibilities which endure beyond a five year term. Society is not dissolved with each election, like a corrupt board of directors ready to set up their dodgy business again under a different name.

Others will not welcome the apology because they simply never made that journey with the rest of society, toward the abandonment of prejudice. Because while there has been great progress, there remain prejudiced diehards in the social, religious, media and political life of our society. Inequality, discrimination and bigotry persist in our workplaces, in our schools, in our media, and in our politics.

We still give such attitudes too much room. We still make euphemistic excuses like “matter of conscience” for those who oppose equality. Most political parties still select them for public office, to pass laws and oversee services which are supposed to serve us all. We still make too many excuses for those who even now cannot accept that same sex relationships are equal, and that the laws against them were morally wrong.

So while the cross party consensus from the leaders at Holyrood was moving, it mustn’t let us rest on our laurels. The journey toward equality is far from complete.

 

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Greens should challenge Growth Commission report’s ideas

Patrick Harvie MSP Fri 1 Jun, 2018

If the SNP’s Growth Commission was supposed to do anything, it was to provoke debate. Debate is certainly needed about a new proposition for independence, because the one thing every 2014 Yes voter should be able to agree on is that what we don’t need is simply a re-run of an argument that failed to win a majority then, in circumstances which have already changed dramatically. That would be a recipe for a second and perhaps even final defeat.

Working for a more just world can’t be done by saying “I wouldn’t start from here”

Patrick Harvie MSP Fri 20 Apr, 2018

As the Commonwealth Games holds the attention of sports fans, and the Commonwealth Heads of Government meet in London, there has been another round of speculation about the organisation’s future, and debate about its past. Is the Commonwealth merely a legacy of Empire, a reminder of the brutal crimes of Empire, or is it a mutually beneficial community of countries bound together by bonds of friendship?
 

HONOURING WOMEN’S EQUALITY CAMPAIGNERS PAST AND PRESENT

Alison Johnstone MSP Tue 6 Feb, 2018

As MSPs today joined those marking the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which first gave some women the right to vote in UK elections, Alison Johnstone, co-founder of the Women 50:50 campaign that aims for gender balance in Scottish elected office, spoke for the Greens in the ‘Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Right to Vote’ debate.

The full text of Alison's speech is included below.

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