Gay MSP says homophobic abuse has got ‘considerably worse’

Scottish Greens politician Ross Greer has said the homophobic abuse he faces has become “considerably worse” in recent years.

Greer, who become a member of the Scottish Parliament in 2016 – at 21, the youngest ever to be elected – said he even suffers “serious homophobic abuse” inside parliament.

Speaking to the PA news agency to mark the 25th anniversary of the first MSPs being elected, Greer, now 29, spoke out about suffering homophobia and ageism, the latter of which he finds “very silly”.

The MSP for the West Scotland region told the Belfast Telegraph: “I get much more serious homophobic abuse, and that has got considerably worse in the [past] couple of years. Scottish politics and Scottish society in general is a worse place for LGBT people than it was five years ago.” He feels as if “we have gone backwards” on LGBTQ+ rights since then.

“Parliament as an institution has become a much more toxic and adversarial place, it is mimicking a lot of the behaviours of Westminster that it was designed specifically to reject and be an alternative to.” 

Debates over gender recognition reform have sparked especially fierce debates, never more so than when Holyrood passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) bill in December 2022 in an effort to make it simpler for trans people to update the sex marker on their birth certificates.

But the UK government took the unprecedented step of blocking the proposed legislation, with prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer expressing concern at the potential impact the bill would have on the country’s equality laws.

Greer, however, rejects any suggestion that Scottish politicians are focusing on the wrong subjects.

“I’m fascinated by this idea that the parliament has become too focused on ‘woke issues’ at the expense of what the public really care about, because the implication of that is that any minority group that needs protected aren’t the public, the public are whatever the majority group is.

“If we govern on the basis of that, we would only be governing for straight, white, middle-aged men, who deserve good government like everybody else.

“But if we only ever did the top three issues – health, education [and] the economy – we would never have had equal marriage, we would never have had protection against racial discrimination, we would have never bothered protecting disabled people.”

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