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2024 OFI Conference Report

We were so pleased to have our annual policy conference return for its second year this weekend on Sunday 19 May, and honoured that our new Equalities Minister, Kaukab Stewart, was able to join us and have a Q&A session with our members – especially so, given how recently she had been appointed to her new role and how busy she must be! It is a privilege to belong to a party where our elected members, including ministers, are so responsible to our community especially in difficult times.

After the keynote and Q&A, we had two sessions for debating resolutions, followed by a roundtable discussion of internal party members such as the role of affiliates, future directions for OFI, and the governance review. The full text of each resolution can be found in our agenda here. Thank you to all of our speakers and everyone who took the time to write and submit a resolution.

In our first session, we had resolutions on LGBT+ Older People, Hate Crime, and the proposed Human Rights Incorporation Bill. All three resolutions passed by acclaim. We discussed the difficulties facing LGBT+ older people in Scotland, particularly concerns around loss of independence, homophobia in care settings, and the legacy of our older people surviving the AIDS epidemic and criminalisation. We also discussed the implementation of the Hate Crime Act, and how there is significant work to be done to ensure that LGBT+ people feel safe reporting hate crimes and that all-important third party reporting centres are properly supported. Finally, we affirmed our support for the upcoming Human Rights Incorporation bill and the potential for it to be one of our party’s most important legacies.

After a break, we had our section session. In this session we discussed LGBT+ Homelessness, the upcoming Ending Conversion Practices Bill, and the informed consent model for trans healthcare. We discussed the fact that the majority of homelessness support services in Scotland do not record data on sexual orientation and gender identity, and that these characteristics are not analysed in the annual Scottish Government Homelessness in Scotland reports, and how vital this data is to ensuring we can understand and tackle the problem of homelessness in the LGBT+ community. We affirmed our support for the Ending Conversion Practices Bill and further called on the party and Scottish Government to ensure that the criminal legislation is only the beginning, and to expedite non-legislative measures such as victim support and community education services. We then discussed moving to an informed consent model for providing adult trans healthcare, similar to what is already in place in countries such as Canada – a desperately needed measure to ensure trans people have access to timely treatment without gatekeeping behind an outdated psychiatric diagnosis.

As our last session related largely to internal matters, we will not post details publicly here. We note that we had an important, lively discussion about ways to strengthen affiliates’ role and value within the party and how we provide the best support to the party in the upcoming Westminster election campaign.

We want to thank everyone who came out today and spent a beautifully sunny Sunday with us, as well as everyone who worked hard to make the event such a success. Special thanks to the GUSNA executive committee for providing the venue, to Kaukab Stewart for being so generous with her time, and to HQ staff for facilitating advertising our event. We look forward to Pride season, and to seeing everyone at party conference in August!