Andrew Brown, with his husband Scott at their beach house in Elie, Scotland. Mr. Brown said Scotland’s rapidly changing attitude toward homosexuality had convinced them to abandon plans to move abroad.
Homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980, and in England until 1967. Even as recent as 2000, billboards financed by a Christian millionaire fought to uphold a ban on schools’ talking about homosexuality. Today three of the five Scottish political party leaders, four ministers in the Scottish government, the representative of the right-wing Independence Party in Scotland, and the secretary of state for Scotland are openly gay.
Ms. Davidson of the Scottish Conservatives, a churchgoing Presbyterian who trained for Britain’s Army Reserve and once cheerfully described herself as a “flat-shoed, shovel-faced lesbian,” cut her hair shorter than it had ever been when she first ran for office. “I wanted to make sure people knew what they were getting,” she said. Since then, five other Scottish Conservative Party politicians have come out. The Church Ms. Davidson attends even flies a rainbow flag on its communion table.
“It’s a big cultural shift,” said Ms. Dugdale, who became engaged to her girlfriend this summer. “When you say you’re gay, people just shrug their shoulders. There is almost a feeling of ‘so what?’”
Scottland has legalized civil partnerships, gay adoption, and equal marriage. It has also passed hate-crime laws, explicitly including prejudice against transgender and intersex people. It is considered one of the most robust hate-crime laws in the world.
Despite the progressive changes, there remain problems to address. Bullying in schools is still a problem, especially for transgender teenagers. Hate crimes against L.G.B.T. individuals are up by 20 percent over the last year (which reflects the fact that reporting rates have increased).
what are your opinions about embracing L.G.B.T. individuals? Does it require you to compromise? Have you ever befriended an L.G.B.T. individual? If so, what did your experience teach you?