Scotland tops gay equality league

Two men holding hands
Image caption Scotland introduced same-sex marriage in 2014

Scotland has been rated the best country in Europe in terms of legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Scotland came top of the Rainbow Index after meeting 92% of ILGA-Europe's criteria for equality and human rights, ahead of the UK as a whole.

Equality campaigners said the ranking recognised the country's progressive measures.

But they said more needed to be done to achieve full equality.

ILGA-Europe, which campaigns on behalf of sexual minorities, uses the Rainbow Index to review the performance of countries based on legal protection offered in areas such as employment and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Scotland in 2014, the country achieved a 92% rating, ahead of the second-placed UK, which achieved 86%.

The UK's figure was brought down by lack of legal protection for intersex people in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland's "failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas", according to the campaign group Equality Network.

Complacency warning

The organisation's policy and public affairs spokesman said: "The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures.

"However, we warn against any complacency as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland.

"There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives."

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said: "The last year has been a momentous one for Scotland and for the history of LGBTI equality with the introduction of one of the most progressive equal marriage laws in the world.

"It is heartening to see the reach of LGBTI equality extending into mainstream organisations, service providers and our schools and for Scotland to be recognised for its approach.

"However, there is still much more to do - with recent LGBTI Youth Scotland research showing that 70% of LGBTI young people have experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying in schools.

"It is important that we tackle these negative attitudes so that schools provide a positive experience for all and we can genuinely say that everyone has the same chances in life."

Belgium came third in the index, Malta fourth and Sweden was in fifth place.

At the other end of the scale, Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine and Monaco were deemed to be the worst countries in terms of legal protection.

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