Publication - Corporate report

Universal periodic review of human rights in the United Kingdom 2017: response to recommendations

Published: 8 Dec 2017
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order

The Scottish Government response to recommendations from the third Universal Periodic Review of the UK's overall human rights record in May 2017.

Universal periodic review of human rights in the United Kingdom 2017: response to recommendations
6. Equality and Non-discrimination

6. Equality and Non-discrimination

“ In a vibrant, modern Scotland, everyone should be treated equally. Equality is everyone’s business and there can be no compromise in our drive to achieve this”

Angela Constance MSP,
Cabinet Secretary of Communities, Social Security and Equalities

6.1 Equality funding

For the eighth year in a row, the Scottish Government has protected the level of spend for the Equality Budget at £20.3 million in 2017-18. Maintaining the budget at this level underlines a commitment to advancing equality and addressing violence against women and girls.

This funding supports strategic and frontline projects to address inequality and discrimination; supports the infrastructure and capacity of equality communities; provides support for activity and interventions to improve outcomes; supports the mainstreaming of equality and the improvement of public sector delivery; and enables the government to support the advancement of human rights and preventing violent extremism.

The Scottish Government has a legal duty to consider equality in developing its policies and spending plans. Each year, alongside the Draft Budget, an Equality Budget Statement ( EBS) is published, which grounds equality considerations in financial decision-making.

6.2 Equality legislation [197]

UPR recommendations [198]

  • Further reinforce measures to combat all forms of discrimination and inequality.
  • Simplify, harmonise and reinforce the current legal norms on equality in favour of those most vulnerable.

Equality Act 2010

The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have limited powers over equal opportunities, including some aspects of the public sector equality duty ( PSED). Powers transferred under the Scotland Act 2016 do not enable Scotland to commence the provisions on dual discrimination.

The 2016 Act transferred powers over the inclusion of persons with protected characteristics in non-executive posts on boards of Scottish public authorities with mixed functions or no reserved functions. See section 6.5 - gender equality for more detail on how these powers will be used in Scotland.

In 2012, specific duties were placed on some Scottish public authorities to help the better performance of their PSED, so it is now appropriate to consider whether or not those specific duties need to be updated or revised in the light of the experience of the last five years.

Socio-economic duty

The Scottish Government has committed to commencing the socio-economic duty, as set out in section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, before the end of 2017. This will require public authorities to have due regard, in the context of strategic decision-making, to the desirability of exercising functions in a way “designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.”

The Scottish Government is considering how best to commence that duty in Scotland. A consultation on relevant issues took place over summer 2017 and will inform the development of guidance for public authorities covered by the duty. The Scottish Government will continue to engage with the EHRC in its role as regulator of the Equality Act.

Caste discrimination

Caste discrimination is not well understood and the Scottish Government recognises the need for the law to provide protection to individuals but also to be enforceable. While the development of case law is of critical importance, there is not a sufficient body of evidence from employment tribunals that can be relied upon in this complex area. Case law will be slow in arising, developing, and subsequently testing the existing legislation and, during that time, individuals will not be adequately protected. Therefore, the Scottish Government considers that the enactment of Section 9(5) of the Equality Act 2010 should proceed as the most effective way to guard against this type of discrimination.

6.3 Race, religion, faith and belief [199]

UPR recommendations [200]

  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to address inequalities experienced by ethnic minority groups.
  • Combat racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, and eliminate all forms of discrimination against migrants and members of racial, religious and ethnic minority groups.
  • Develop a plan of action to implement the activities of the Decade of People of African Descent, which would, inter alia, address concerns of racial profiling of people of African Descent.

The Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030 ( REF) [201] was developed to advance race equality and address the barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities realising their potential.

The Scottish Government has appointed an independent Race Equality Framework Adviser to champion race equality and help drive implementation.

The Race Equality Framework ( REF) Implementation Approach (February 2017) [202] looks at how the Framework can remain responsive and flexible to accommodate new evidence and change in the demographic and policy environments. The Scottish Government will publish an action plan in December 2017, setting out key actions for the current parliamentary session to drive positive change for minority ethnic communities.

Intersectionality is a key principle underpinning the Framework. In Summer 2016 the Scottish Government held a series of intersectional engagement activities, which specifically included stakeholders that represented disability and older people, giving these groups the opportunity to discuss the delivery of and future actions in the Framework.

Throughout 2017 a series of Framework-themed roundtables will be held, involving policy officials and key experts from a range of statutory and third sector organisations and from academia.

Minority ethnic women

A minority ethnic women’s network is being established, with support from the Scottish Government and Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations, to link in to REF actions.

Events in February and May 2017 looked at the development of a minority ethnic professional women’s network for mentoring, peer support, capacity building, training, and influencing workforce/workplace policies and practices – such as increasing the number of minority ethnic women in senior management roles within the public sector.

One area of concern highlighted by many minority ethnic women at previous events has been safety for women. Thus, an event held on 20 September 2017 focused on the delivery plan for the Equally Safe strategy, which is currently being redrafted following a public consultation with a view to publish a final delivery plan at the end of the year.

Minority ethnic young people

The Scottish Government commissioned Young Scot to co-design the Fairer Future project, [203] which brought together young minority ethnic people to gather their insights, experiences and views on race equality. Fairer Future is a panel of 16 young people aged 14-21 exploring (among other topics) the six core themes of Scotland’s REF and how it relates to young people.

A Fairer Future event on 29 June 2017 gathered together young people, youth organisations, minority ethnic organisations and relevant policy makers. Following a presentation from the youth panel and workshops to provide feedback, a shared vision for the future was created. A report will be published in Autumn 2017.


The Scottish Government is providing over £2.6 million (2017-18) to organisations working to advance race equality in Scotland. In 2016-17, £507,916 of equality funding was allocated to faith and belief organisations, including £145,000 to Interfaith Scotland.

6.4 Gypsy/Travellers [204]

UPR recommendations [205]

  • Develop a general strategy (in consultation with communities) to ensure a systematic and coherent approach to addressing problems faced by Gypsy/Travellers and Roma, including discrimination and stigmatisation.


Following direct engagement with members of the Gypsy/Traveller community in 2017, the Scottish Government intends to publish a Gypsy/Traveller Strategic Programme of Work document in late 2017. The document will bring together relevant policies across government that help secure improved outcomes for Gypsy/Travellers. The Scottish Government will also publish a Race Equality Action Plan in late 2017 which will include specific actions for Gypsy/Travellers.

The Scottish Government has allocated over £300,000 from the Equality Fund to organisations working with Gypsy/Traveller and Roma communities in 2017-18, and is planning an event in 2018 to celebrate the contribution made to Scottish life by Gypsy/Traveller communities.

Site provision

The government’s role is to set a robust framework and promote good practice. The Scottish Government’s desire is for the most effective approaches to be used across the whole country to meet the needs of both Gypsy/Traveller and settled communities. Local authorities receive a General Capital Grant to fund capital expenditure, and it is for each individual local authority to decide how to best use its resources to meet both local needs and national priorities. This includes how much it chooses to allocate to the provision of Gypsy/Traveller sites.

Decisions about the provision of Gypsy/Traveller sites are best made at the local level, by those with local knowledge and accountability. Local authorities are required by law to produce a Local Housing Strategy ( LHS) that sets out its priorities and plans for the delivery of housing and related services, including for Gypsy/Travellers. An LHS must be supported by a Housing Need and Demand Assessment ( HNDA). In 2014 the Scottish Government published revised guidance for LHS and HNDAs to help make sure the accommodation needs of Gypsy/Travellers are fully taken into account by councils as they plan accommodation provision.

The Scottish Government understands the concerns of Gypsy/Travellers in relation to site provision. The Scottish planning system is plan-led, with individual development proposals being determined in accordance with the relevant local development plan unless material considerations would indicate otherwise. Requiring, permitting, or prohibiting specific types of development in legislation is not compatible with this plan-led approach. Planning authorities are expected to consider provision of Gypsy/Traveller sites in development plans.

The Scottish Ministers have made it clear that they want Scotland’s plan-led system to be more effective, meaning plans are up-to-date, understandable and most of all deliverable.

National planning policy, Scottish Planning Policy, was published in 2014. It recognises that HNDAs will evidence need for sites for Gypsy/Travellers. Development plans and local housing strategies should address any need identified, taking into account their mobile lifestyles. The forthcoming Planning Bill will give new statutory status to Scottish Planning Policy, [206] which is due to be reviewed between 2018 and 2020.

In the current city regions, the strategic development plan should have a role in addressing cross-boundary considerations. If there is a need, local development plans should identify suitable sites for these communities. They should also consider whether policies are required for small privately-owned sites for Gypsy/Travellers. The community should be appropriately involved in identifying sites for their use.

The Scottish Government funded a project by PAS (formerly Planning Aid Scotland) to increase awareness of the needs of Gypsy/Travellers in accessing the planning system. It resulted in the publication of five planning guides in April 2015, aimed at Gypsy/Travellers, planning professionals, elected members and community councillors respectively. The fifth was aimed at the media.

In 2015 the Scottish Government published Improving Gypsy/Traveller Sites, [207] which sets out minimum standards for Gypsy/Traveller sites, covering: fabric standards; energy efficiency; facilities and amenities; safety and security; maintenance and repairs; fair treatment; and consultation. A core set of rights and responsibilities for site tenants was also introduced. The standards, which are similar to those enjoyed by social housing tenants under the Scottish Housing Quality Standards, were developed in consultation with Gypsy/Travellers living on sites, local authorities and others stakeholders. The deadline for compliance with the standards is June 2018. The Scottish Government is currently reviewing progress towards implementing the guidance with site tenants, site providers and other stakeholders. As part of this process, officials will visit a number of Gypsy/Traveller sites and talk to site residents about the standards on their site. The new site standards are now part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter Outcomes, the results of which will be reported on by the Scottish Housing Regulator from 2018-19.

In April 2017, the Scottish Government published fully revised guidance for local authorities on managing unauthorised encampments In Scotland. [208] During the review of this guidance, officials met with local authorities, Police Scotland, Gypsy/Travellers, landowners and equality groups, and visited the location of a number of unauthorised sites to see them at first hand to ensure the views and experiences of Gypsy/Travellers were considered. Local authorities must balance a range of issues and needs when managing unauthorised sites, including helping to ensure those on such sites have access to the services needed to address any education, health, and other needs. The revised guidance outlines the issues a local authority will need to consider when deciding its strategy for managing unauthorised sites in its area, and includes a suggested process for responding to such sites. The Scottish Government expects each local authority to consider the revised guidance, and their own local arrangements, to ensure the management of unauthorised sites reflects best practice.

6.5 Gender [209]

UPR recommendations [210]

  • Address problems of discrimination against women in the political, economic and social spheres, particularly in the labour market, social security and participation in politics; give particular consideration to black and minority ethnic women, LGBTI women and disabled women.
  • Continue efforts to close the gender pay gap, including by considering efficient means of following up on the reports made by the employers.

Discrimination against women

The Scottish Government has taken action to address the inequalities that women experience in relation to work; new measures to improve the representation of women in senior and decision-making roles; initiatives to challenge the gender imbalance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ( STEM) and steps to strengthen the government’s response to all forms of violence against women and girls. In addition, the Scottish Government has committed to establish an Advisory Council for Women and Girls.

Using new powers transferred to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government has committed to bring forward legislation to improve the representation of women on the boards of public bodies in Scotland. The Scottish Government also continues to champion the Partnership for Change 50/50 by 2020 campaign, which encourages public, private and third sector organisations to work towards gender balance on their own boards by 2020. For the first time, in 2015 more women than men were appointed by Ministers to the boards of regulated public bodies (41% of applicants and 54% of new appointees were women).

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that women are represented in all senior and decision-making roles, including in the boardroom and in politics. The First Minister is a signatory to the Women 50:50 campaign and has led by example, with one of the very few gender-balanced cabinets anywhere in the world.

Other Scottish Government activity includes:

  • working with the EHRC to tackle pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  • The Minister for Employability and Training chairs a working group, the remit of which includes creating guidelines for employers to ensure best practice, as well as improving access to guidance for pregnant women and new mothers.
  • approving six projects, with a total value above the £200,000 previously announced, to deliver a Returners programme to assist women who struggle to re-enter the workforce following a career break. This includes: funding returners projects to tackle the under-representation of women in the STEM, finance, security and manufacturing sectors; increasing business start-up rates for women in childcare; and increasing the number of women in management positions. One project specifically supports black and minority ethnic women.
  • the Scottish Government is delighted that the UK Supreme Court has ruled employment tribunal fees to be unlawful. The Scottish Government will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that the new employment tribunal system in Scotland provides access to justice and contributes to the vision for fair work to be embedded in all workplaces in Scotland.
  • funding the Family Friendly Working Scotland Partnership (£169,000 in 2017-18) – the Scottish Government works with Working Families (a leading UK work-life balance organisation), Parenting Across Scotland and Fathers Network Scotland to support and promote the development of family-friendly workplaces across Scotland and encourage take up of shared parental leave.
  • the First Minister has committed to mentoring a young woman aged 18-23 and invited other women leaders to join her to inspire and support the next generation of aspiring women leaders.
  • a new £500,000 Workplace Equality Fund, based on recommendations made in the Race Equality Framework and the findings of the Equal Opportunities Committee inquiry into Removing Barriers: Race, Ethnicity and Employment. The aim of the Fund will be to address long standing barriers to accessing the labour market. It is likely to focus on recruitment and progression for women, disabled people, ethnic minority people and older workers.
  • a commitment to paying the real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour to adult social care workers – giving up to 40,000 people, mainly women, doing some of the most valuable work in Scotland a well-deserved pay rise.
  • the commitment, as part of the almost doubling of funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1,140 hours by 2020, to provide sufficient additional revenue funding to allow local authorities to agree rates with funded providers in the private and third sectors that enables them to pay the Living Wage to childcare workers providing the funded entitlement.

Gender pay gap

The gender pay gap for full-time employees in Scotland decreased from 7.7% in 2015 to 6.2% in 2016. Scotland’s public sector pay policies require public bodies to ensure that pay is fair and non-discriminatory, and the Scottish Government continues to support work to raise awareness and encourage action by employees and employers to tackle the causes of pay inequality:

  • providing £205,000 to Close the Gap in 2016-17 to challenge and change employment practices and workplace cultures
  • introduced a National Indicator (‘reduce the pay gap’) to monitor performance in tackling the various drivers of the pay gap
  • reduced the threshold for listed public authorities to report their gender pay gap and publish statements on equal pay and occupational segregation, from those with more than 150 employees to those with more than 20 employees

6.6 Children [211]

UPR recommendations [212]

  • Give consideration as to how to ensure that children’s views are taken into consideration in line with the CRC

Legislative framework

Provisions in individual aspects of Scots Law have strengthened children’s rights in Scotland. For example the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 [213] ( CYP Act) places specific duties on the Scottish Ministers to keep under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the CRC requirements, and to take steps identified by that consideration as appropriate. The CYP Act requires Ministers to promote public awareness and understanding of children’s rights, and to report every three years to the Scottish Parliament on relevant progress and their plans for the subsequent three year period. The CYP Act also places a duty on a wide range of public authorities, including local authorities and health boards, to report every three years on the steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect to the requirements of the CRC.

In the 2017-18 PfG, the Scottish Government has committed to undertaking a comprehensive audit on the most effective and practical way to further embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation.


The 2016-17 Equality Budget Statement included a section on the impact of budget decisions for children and young people and their rights and wellbeing. This is also a feature of the 2017-18 Equality Budget Statement. The Scottish Government has prioritised funding allocations to areas of expenditure that benefit children and young people and their families, including access to health visitors, expanding funded early learning and childcare, free school meals, measures to address the poverty-related attainment gap, and child and adolescent mental health services ( CAMHS). In May 2016, the First Minister identified the Scottish Government’s defining mission as ensuring that all children in Scotland have equality of opportunity and “a fair chance in life.” [214]

Impact assessment

Scotland’s Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments ( CRWIA) support policy officials to consider the possible direct and indirect impacts of proposed new policies and legislation on the rights and wellbeing of all children and young people, no matter what their individual backgrounds and circumstances, and any necessary mitigation. There are no plans to make this a statutory obligation.

Detailed training and guidance on the CRC and children’s rights is available to officials undertaking CRWIAs and best practice online materials will continue to be updated. The CRWIA approach has been published for use by public authorities (and other organisations) when developing and refreshing local policies and procedures.

The Scottish Government will continue to undertake and publish [215] CRWIAs to support policy improvement, for example in relation to the establishment of a child death reviews process; the Child Poverty Bill; the Delivery Plan for Equally Safe: Scotland’s strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls; the Domestic Abuse Bill; the National Low Emission Framework; the CRPD Delivery Plan: A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People; the National Framework for Disabled Children, Young People and their Families; the Internet Safety Action Plan; the Mental Health Strategy; and the programme for the expansion of funded early learning and childcare entitlement.

Getting It Right For Every Child

The Getting it right for every child approach puts the rights and wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of the services that support them. It means services, such as early years services, schools, and the NHS, work with and for children, young people and families to give them the best possible support by offering the right help, at the right time, from the right people. When commenced, the Named Person and Child’s Plan provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will place these parts of Getting it right for every child on a statutory footing. Some areas already deliver these on a non-statutory basis, and the 2014 Act has put into statute a holistic definition of wellbeing for children and young people, as set out by the wellbeing indicators (safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, responsible, respected and included).


The Scottish Government is working with partners to meaningfully and sustainably engage children and young people, across all diverse groups, on issues that affect them. Some recent examples are: the Commonwealth Games 2014 Legacy, the National Conversation, underage drinking, Child Poverty, Children and Young People’s regional summits in 2015 (which contributed to the Year of Young People 2018 agenda and Fairer Scotland), and the co-design work on the Year of Young People 2018.

The Scottish Sentencing Council’s Business Plan, detailing work up to October 2018, includes consideration of the application of sentencing for children and young people being dealt with within Scottish courts. The Family Law Committee of the Scottish Civil Justice Council, which advises on civil court rules and procedures, is carrying out work on the voice of the child, following a policy paper prepared by the Scottish Government. In particular, it is looking at Form F9, used by the courts to obtain a child’s views in cases such as contact, residence and parental responsibilities and rights.

In 2018 the Scottish Government will consult on reviewing part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, including to consider what more can be done to obtain the voice of the child in contact cases, in line with the CRC.

In undertaking CRWIAs, officials can be supported to seek the views of children and young people by a range of Scottish Government-funded youth organisations, including the Scottish Youth Parliament, the Children’s Parliament, Article 12 in Scotland, and Young Scot. The CYPCS can also advise.

The Scottish Government is committed to doing more to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard. It acknowledges that existing participation structures do not always meet the needs and aspirations of all children and young people, and that more needs to be done to establish systematic, co-ordinated and sustainable participation structures for engaging meaningfully with children and young people in local and national decision-making. In February 2017, Cabinet Ministers held their first meeting with children and young people (supported by the Scottish Youth Parliament and the Children’s Parliament) to discuss issues that are important to them. Cabinet Ministers recognise the importance of involving children and young people in policy development on an ongoing basis, and agreed that their meeting with children and young people will be an annual event.

The extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-year olds in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and recent elections to the Scottish Parliament allowed young people to express their views in the democratic process. Young people were widely commended for their ability to engage with the issues and express their opinions seriously and enthusiastically.

One of the aims of the Year of Young People is to celebrate the lives of young people and their contribution to Scottish society. The Scottish Government has worked with key stakeholders, including the CYPCS, NGOs and children and young people themselves to address the negative portrayal of children and young people within the media and wider society. This has included initiatives to celebrate the contribution that children and young people make at both national and local levels. For example, the Scottish Government’s Saltire Awards, which celebrate youth volunteering and other measures to celebrate youth overseas partnership working, and the Sunday Mail Young Scot Awards, which celebrate the excellent achievements of young people in Scotland.

Rest, leisure, play, recreation and cultural life

In 2013 the Scottish Government published a National Play Strategy [216] and a supporting action plan. [217] The strategy sets out Scotland’s vision for play, the policy context, why play matters and the fact that it is a child’s right. The Scottish Government’s vision seeks to improve the play experiences of all children and young people, including those with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds. It aims to ensure that all children and young people can access play opportunities in a range of settings which offer variety, adventure and challenge.

In support of the strategy the Scottish Government published Playing with quality and equality: a review of inclusive play in Scotland [218] (March 2015), which gives recommendations to help the government, local authorities and those involved in community planning ensure equal access to inclusive play services across Scotland.

In addition, in November 2015 the Scottish Government launched a book called Play This Way aimed at all children throughout Scotland aged 8-10 years old. The aim of this project is to bring to life some of the key elements of the Play Strategy in a way that is relevant and engaging for children and their families. It communicates different ways to play, explains the importance of play and explains how every child has the right to play. The book has been published in both English and Gaelic, and inclusive play is a key theme throughout. It was distributed in June 2016 to every child in Primary 3, 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Go2Play is a £3.5 million, six year fund delivered by Inspiring Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government. It aims to support the development and expansion of free play in disadvantaged communities across Scotland. In the period 2015-16 to 2017-18, the Scottish Government invested £11,524,859. Sixty five per cent of the Play Ranger organisations felt they worked with vulnerable children and/or in areas of social deprivation, and 8-12% of the children supported by Play Rangers fell into the broadest spectrum of additional support needs.

As part of the work of the Play Strategy Implementation Group the Scottish Government has:

  • contributed to the development of a renewed Place Standard Tool, to enable individuals and communities to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their local areas
  • established, through Play Scotland, a refreshed Play Council supporting the play sector to share good practice, and develop its collective capacity to positively influence policy and practice at both local and national levels
  • developed and published a Play Map resource to support Community Planning partnerships integrate play into local policy and planning
  • mapped the links between the Play Strategy and other key policy documents and initiatives such as physical activity, health strategies, place-making, parenting, reducing inequality and anti-poverty strategies

The year-long campaign, ‘Away and Play’, launched in Summer 2017, is funded by the Scottish Government and powered by Inspiring Scotland, an independent charity focused on tackling some of Scotland’s toughest, long-term social problems. The campaign will highlight the benefits of free and unstructured play in encouraging imagination, promoting risk-taking, improving health and helping collaboration. Because 2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, ‘Away and Play’ will work with partners such as Historic Environment Scotland ( HES) and the Forestry Commission to give ideas to parents for year-round, all-weather outdoor play in Scotland, and encourage them to allow their children to play in a less structured and more imaginative manner.

PlayTalkRead ( PTR) is the Scottish Government’s campaign to highlight the importance of playing, talking and reading with children from birth to three years old to boost their development. The campaign tours across Scotland, visiting each local authority to take messages of how crucial to a child’s development, playing, talking and reading are in the first three years of a child’s life. The project offers practical support and ideas on how to create the best foundations for children’s development. Bessie, Benjie and Bertie, the PTR buses, are designed as free drop-in playgrounds where parents and carers can pick up tips on exciting new ideas to play, talk and read more with little ones in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Sexual and reproductive health policy

The Scottish Government’s Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework specifically highlights the needs of young people in relation to sexual health, ensuring that this work is integrated into wider workstreams to address inequalities and focus on building resilience.

The Scottish Government encourages young people to delay sexual activity until they are ready and encourages them to practice safer sex when they do become sexually active. It is essential that anyone who is, or is considering becoming, sexually active has access to guidance and services, which is why the Scottish Government has asked NHS Boards and councils to ensure young people’s sexual health ‘dropin’-services are available within or near every school in Scotland.

Section 5.3 provides more information on relationships, sexual health and parenthood education in Scottish schools. Many sexual health services based within schools offer free condoms. Professionals within school-based services will signpost for access to routine and emergency contraception where appropriate.

The Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy was published in 2016. The Strategy aims to drive actions that will decrease the cycle of deprivation associated with pregnancy in young people under 18. It also provides extra support for all young parents, particularly those who are looked after, up to the age of 26. It was developed with the input of young people from across Scotland.

A key aim of the Strategy is to enable and empower young people so they feel a sense of control over their own lives, allowing them to build self-efficacy, and providing equality of opportunity for the future. The Strategy highlights key interventions that will support young people to plan for their future – including pregnancy and parenthood.

The Strategy highlights education as a fundamental intervention for reducing the risk of pregnancy in young people. Additionally, it specifically mentions the importance of supporting positive relationships and sexual wellbeing, high quality relationships, sexual health and parenthood education, as well as the need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in relation to young people. The importance of help and advice for young people who become pregnant is clearly set out, as are the ways in which support should be provided to young parents.

Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland

The Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003 [219] makes clear that the Commissioner is not to be regarded as a servant or agent of the Crown and is not subject to direction or control of any Member of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government or the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body ( SPCB). The SPCB sets the terms of the Commissioner’s appointment, including funding support.

The 2003 Act provides for the Commissioner to undertake investigations in respect of how service providers have taken account of the rights, interests and views of groups of children and young people in decisions that affect them. Provisions in Part 2 of the CYP Act, which were commenced on 7 August 2017, empower the Commissioner to conduct such investigations on behalf of individual children.

6.7 Football club registration

The Scottish Government has discussed the concerns with the football authorities, clubs, PFA Scotland, the Children’s Commissioner and the petitioners.

The Public Petitions Committee has taken evidence from a number of stakeholders, and intends to publish a report. The Committee held a parliamentary debate on 26 September.

6.8 Older people [220]

The Scottish Government is committed to promoting and protecting equality and human rights for older people, and is working with older people’s organisations to shape policies and services to ensure that, wherever possible, older people can enjoy a thriving ‘third age’.

The Scottish Government is providing over £490,000 (2017-18) to older people’s and third sector organisations to tackle barriers to independent living experienced by older people, and to promote older people’s rights. This includes £365,000 to support work to address social isolation and loneliness experienced by older people. In 2016-17, the £500,000 Social Isolation and Loneliness Fund focused on support for 36 community-based projects tackling social isolation.

The Scottish Government is developing, in collaboration with partners and a wide range of interests, a national strategy to reduce social isolation and loneliness and encourage increased social engagement. In late Summer 2017 the Scottish Government will launch a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders and communities on a draft strategy and hold a series of roundtable discussions with communities in different parts of Scotland.

The concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people provides health and wellbeing benefits and is a major contributor to tackling loneliness and isolation. In 2017-18, Scottish Government funding for the scheme has been maintained at £196 million. On 25 August 2017 the Scottish Government published a public consultation on a number of options to ensure the longer-term sustainability of the scheme and on providing free bus travel for modern apprentices under the age of 21.

Through Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants, the Scottish Welfare Fund ( SWF) assists those on a low income in need to overcome a crisis or emergency, or to settle or remain in their own home where there is risk of an individual needing to go into care institutions. It can also help establish in the community people coming from longer term care.

Local Authority net expenditure on social care services for over 65s has increased by 31% under the current Scottish Government, from £1 billion in 2006-7 to £1.3 billion in 2015-16, while net expenditure on adult (aged 18+) social care services increased by 38% over the same period, from £1.36 billion to £2.2 billion. The Scottish Government has protected and grown social care spending in Scotland, and remains committed to the provision of free personal and nursing care for over 65s in Scotland, which benefits around 78,000 people each year.

National standards of practice and behaviour for social services workers and employers are laid down in codes of practice published by the Scottish Social Services Council, in accordance with the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001. These were revised in 2016 and require workers to support the rights of people who use services, to promote their independence and empower them to understand and respect their rights. Workers must also work in a way that promotes diversity and respects different cultures and values. Employers must promote and publicise the codes of practice to workers and to people who use services. The codes of practice are part of the regulatory framework designed to enhance services and protect the public. Regulation of services by the Care Inspectorate, and of social services workers by the Scottish Social Services Council, takes account of them.

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014 requires local integration of adult health and social care services to ensure that those who use services get the right care and support, whatever their needs, at any point in their care journey. Partnerships are placing a greater emphasis on community-based and more joined-up, anticipatory and preventative care. The Scottish Government is working with local authorities, providers, disabled people and other partners to deliver reform to adult social care. This will consider the commissioning of residential care and the role of new models of care and support in home care, and will enable progress towards the aim to end “time and task” based care and shift to care that focuses on achieving independent living for people who use social care services.

See also section 8.4 – Dementia.

6.9 Disabled people [221]

UPR recommendations [222]

  • Implement measures in support of enhanced participation of people with disabilities in the work force.

On 2 December 2016 the Scottish Government published a Disability Delivery Plan ( DDP), A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People, [223] which will work to remove the barriers disabled people can face when it comes to finding and sustaining employment, and developing their careers. To ensure that everybody who can and wants to work has the opportunity to find fulfilling jobs, suitable to their skills, the Scottish Government is working with its partners, for example Skills Developent Scotland ( SDS), to make Modern Apprenticeships more open, attractive and available to people with disabilities.

Other measures to increase the number of disabled people in the workforce and to half the disability employment gap include:

  • the development and delivery of devolved employment services in Scotland
  • promoting and supporting the delivery of the supported employment model
  • Developing the Young Workforce - Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy
  • Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland - SDS will report annually and published a Year 1 update on 18 July 2017. [224]
  • autism and learning disabilities strategies
  • developing internships and programmes for disabled people

The 150 employee threshold for equal pay statement publication was lowered to 20 in 2016. Most of the public authorities listed in the schedule to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties)(Scotland) Regulations 2012 are now required to publish an equal pay statement at intervals of no more than four years. For most, their second statement was due by the end of April 2017.

An authority’s first statement is required to include information on equal pay policy and occupational segregation between men and women; the second and subsequent statements must cover gender, race and disability. If a public authority wishes to publish disability data broken down by gender it can do so, although there is no legal requirement for this.

The specific duties have been in place since 2012 so it is now appropriate to consider whether or not they need to be updated or revised in the light of the experience of the last five years.

The Scottish Government is also developing a framework to support disabled children and their families.

6.10 British Sign Language

On 24 October 2017, the Scottish Government published its first British Sign Language ( BSL) National Plan. [225] This sets out an ambition to make Scotland the best place in the world for BSL users to live, work and visit.

One of the ten long-term goals in the plan is that:

BSL users will be supported to develop the skills they need to become valued members of the Scottish workforce, so that they can fulfil their potential, and improve Scotland’s economic performance. They will be provided with support to enable them to progress in their chosen career.”

The Scottish Ministers have committed to taking a range of separate actions – by 2020 – to make measurable progress towards this goal. These include:

  • provide a wide range of information, advice and guidance in BSL for pupils and students to support their career and learning choices and the transition process into Further or Higher Education, or into employment
  • ensure that every Scottish Government-funded employment programme and training opportunity is accessible to BSL users and that tailored support is available to them
  • provide up to 12 months support to BSL users who access in-work support services
  • establish a Workplace Equality Fund to address long standing barriers in access to the labour market for people with a range of characteristics, including BSL users

Ministers will publish a National Progress Report in 2020 and a further set of actions.

6.11 Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex [226]

UPR recommendations [227]

  • Review the Equality Act in relation to gender identity and the rights of intersex persons in the context of rights to health services.

The Scottish Government has introduced in Parliament the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill, [228] which will, if passed by Parliament, provide an automatic pardon to people convicted of same-sex sexual activity that is now legal.

The Bill introduces a scheme to enable people to apply to the Scottish Ministers to have these convictions disregarded from central conviction records. Where an application is granted, these convictions will never be disclosed in a criminal record check.

In Scotland, a married transgender person with an interim Gender Recognition Certificate ( GRC) can apply to the Sheriff Court for a full GRC. The 2016-17 PfG contains a commitment to “review and reform gender recognition law so it is in line with international best practice for people who are transgender or intersex.” The Scottish Government intends to consult later in 2017 on changes generally to the legislation on gender recognition.

The Scottish Government has added intersex equality to its approach to sexual orientation and gender identity equality, and has provided £45,000 each year since 2015-16 to the Equality Network to facilitate engagement. Later in 2017, the Scottish Government intends to consult on how best to support intersex children and their families.

6.12 Hate crime [229]

UPR recommendations [230]

  • Continue efforts to tackle hate crime, including by assessing the impact of action already taken; further strengthening effective legislative and judicial measures; increasing the effectiveness of reporting; raising awareness with regard to minorities and foreigners; adopting measures on integration and inclusion; and prosecuting perpetrators. Government, parliaments, human rights institutions and civil society should work together.
  • Improve services for victims of hate crime, and ensure access to fair and effective mechanisms for reparation.
  • Strengthen data collection in relation to hate crime.
  • Condemn racist rhetoric and hate speech, including by politicians, and dedicate more resources to combat negative stereotypes in the media against the most affected minority groups, for example LGBTI, Gypsies, Muslims, refugees and persons granted asylum.

Since 2012, the Scottish Government has invested over £100 million to promote equality and tackle discrimination, and is continuing to work closely with partner organisations to advance the vision of ‘One Scotland’. The Scottish Ministers have shown leadership in condemning hate crime as unacceptable and in challenging rhetoric that seeks to divide communities.

There has been no evidence of a significant rise in hate crime in Scotland following the EU Referendum in 2016. Ministers were active in the period immediately following the Referendum in engaging with non- UK EU nationals to hear and understand their concerns.

The Scottish Government accepted the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion (published 23 September 2016) and, on 13 June, set out an ambitious programme of work to take them forward Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities. [231] A delivery group chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities is being established and will meet for the first time later this year.

On 26 January 2017, the Scottish Government announced an independent review of hate crime legislation chaired by Lord Bracadale. [232] Lord Bracadale is considering whether changes need to be made to the current laws; whether existing offences should be extended to cover other groups; and whether all hate crimes should be brought into one area of legislation. The review will include public consultation with stakeholders and is expected to report to Ministers in early 2018.

Police Scotland has a strong commitment to tackling hate crime and the Crown Office has in place a presumption to prosecute where a crime has been aggravated by prejudice. There are laws in place to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.

The Scottish Government is working to improve the capture of data to better understand the scale and severity of hate crime. The ‘Hate Has No Home in Scotland’ campaign, [233] launched in October 2017, aims to raise awareness of what hate crime is, and encourage victims and witnesses to report it to Police Scotland or a third party reporting centre.