We are committed to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Everyone should be able to access the healthcare that they need when they need it as part of that overall commitment to equality.
As part of the remobilisation of the national health service, we are considering the impact of the pandemic on sexual health services and how we can improve those services further. That includes widening access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, for example. We are also working with NHS Scotland to improve gender identity services, including reducing waiting times. I think that everybody recognises that the waiting times are far too long, and that that causes additional trauma and anxiety.
We will shortly write to the national gender identity clinical network for Scotland to ask it to review and update the gender reassignment protocol.
I take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy pride. However, we should always remember that pride started as a protest.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed attacks on organisations such as Stonewall, with some particularly wild and untrue allegations. That shows just how far we have to go to make Scotland a truly equal society. Such attacks cause great emotional pain and they have to stop. Trans people are our friends, colleagues and family, and they deserve to be able to express their identity in peace.
Will the First Minister stand with me to support trans people? Does she agree that the current situation that many trans people face in trying to access gender identity services is unacceptable? That includes typical waiting times of years for a first appointment. Will the First Minister give a clear commitment that the Scottish Government will take the steps that are needed, including through providing funding and redesigning those services, to make a person-centred and multidisciplinary approach for trans people in Scotland?
In general terms, I agree with all of that. I absolutely stand full square behind trans people and against the discrimination, stigma and prejudice that they face in the on-going battle for equality, to which they have as much entitlement as anyone else in our society.
There are many things that we have to do, not the least of which is to reduce waiting times for gender identity services. I have already commented on that.
All of us also have to recognise that progress in our society is, unfortunately, rarely all one way. We always have to protect and continue to win and re-win the progress that we have made.
I, too, wish people a happy pride month. That started as a process, and Stonewall was, of course, right at the heart of it. To this day, it has done very good work for people who rely on its services and support.
We do not have to look too far to see that there are many forces that want to take us backwards, whether on LGBTI issues, sexism, misogyny or racism. All of us have a duty to stand up for equality, however difficult that may be on occasion, to ensure that our progress as a country continues to be in the forward direction and that Scotland is a place where everybody feels valued, respected and able to be who they are. That is the country that I want not just to lead, but live in as a citizen. We all have work to do to ensure that that is the reality and not just rhetoric.