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Equality campaign backs yes vote

LGBT independence supporters believe that a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum will help secure greater equality.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners have published their Rainbow Paper, which sets out several ways in which equal rights could be progressed in an independent Scotland.

They say that Westminster control is "holding back" and could reverse progress on LGBT rights.

The Yes LGBT group says independence will allow equality to be enshrined in a written constitution, secure the power to protect and improve equality law, secure the power to protect spending on LGBT equality measures in public services, provide the chance to create an "asylum system that offers protection to those facing persecution" and give full control over foreign policy and international development, enabling Scotland to "actively promote LGBT rights around the world".

Kirsty MacAlpine, co-convener of Yes LGBT, said: "Independence offers Scotland a unique opportunity to secure the powers and resources we need to ensure full equality for LGBT people here and to play our role in promoting human rights around the world.

"Over the past 15 years of the Scottish Parliament, Scotland has consistently taken a more progressive approach to LGBT equality than Westminster, with world-leading laws and leadership in the areas where we have control."

Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, said: "Holyrood is a parliament which has never once voted against any aspect of LGBT equality, and that's not something that can be said of Westminster.

"There are many opportunities which independence offers, from a humane asylum system to constitutional protection for all citizens' equality. We have nothing to fear from independence, and much to gain.

"Scotland has changed. Once a country which held out for years against decriminalisation of male same-sex relationships, we are now a country which gave equal marriage the third biggest majority of any country in the world.

"We should be proud of that progress and unafraid of taking responsibility for all the decisions about our country's future."

A Better Together spokesman said: "The UK's LGBT rights record is something that people right across these isles can be proud of. The UK has been voted the best place to be LGBT in Europe for three years running.

"The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) reports on the LGBT rights record of European countries. For the third year in a row the UK came out on top, scoring 82% - a 5% increase on the 2013 figure. This score put the UK LGBT rights record ahead of countries like Norway and Sweden.

"We do not need to turn our backs on our friends and family across the UK. We can have the best of both worlds - more powers for Scotland whilst getting the opportunities which come with being part of the UK, and avoiding the risks of separation."

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