I have always been committed to making Scotland a fair and equal society for all, and we are making great strides in doing so for the LGBT community.
Since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Scotland 35 years ago, we have seen a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly and the introduction of hate crime legislation extended to cover LGBT people.
Scotland was also the first country in Europe to provide national government funding to a transgender rights project, and Scotland has its own standalone Gender Reassignment Protocol.
More recently, the Scottish Parliament voted to legalise same sex marriage. I took great pride in not only leading the consultation on marriage for same sex couples, but also attending one of the very first same sex marriage ceremonies in Scotland.
That decision does far more than just allow same sex couples to marry – it challenges the negative attitudes that still exist today towards LGBT people, and shows love is love regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.
Improving the health and wellbeing of our children and young people is important and that’s why we launched ‘A National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People’ in 2010, something we are currently updating. We also established and wholly fund respectme, a national anti-bullying service which provides direct support to local authorities, schools, youth groups and all those working with children and young people.
2016, more than ever, provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of LGBT people and the distance that has been travelled to date in terms of LGBT equality.
The Scottish Government has strongly supported LGBT History Month since 2005 and it provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made, but also look to the future and what more can be achieved.
It also affords us the chance to celebrate the diverse communities that enrich Scotland socially, culturally and economically and makes Scotland the vibrant, welcoming country that it is.
Continuing to address the barriers that exist for LGBT people in Scotland and ensuring that everyone has the same chances to participate in every aspect of life is, for me, the most effective way of making sure that each and everyone one of us benefits from the diversity this fantastic country and its people has to offer.
First Minister of Scotland