THE first parliamentary group on gay rights has been established at Holyrood.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Green co-convener Patrick Harvie are among the MSPs on the new cross-party group on LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexuial, transgender, intersex) issues.

The group was initiated by newly elected Tory MSP Jamie Greene in order to improve the lives of people in the LGBTI+ community in Scotland. Also involved is the SNP’s Ben Macpherson.

Mr Greene said: “When I was sworn into the Scottish Parliament I was surprised to learn that no such group that promoted the rights of LGBTI+ currently existed.

“The formation of this Cross-Party Group will help us address critical issues facing the LGBTI+ community that have often been largely absent from the mainstream agenda.

“In addition to issues such as Health, Education, Equality and Bullying, we also hope to look at issues such as geriatrics care, LGBTI life in rural Scotland and Transgender issues.”

Ms Dugdale, who recently came out and announced her engagement to her long-term partner, added: “It’s very important to me that we use our voices and the power that we have to make a difference for LGBTI+ people across Scotland, particularly LBGTI+ young people. I am looking forward to the CPG discussing the way forward for inclusive education in schools.”

Tim Hopkins, Director of the Equality Network, while will provide the group’s secretariat, said: “Scotland has made a lot of progress on these issues since 1999, but there is a long way still to go, and the Group will be an important focus for mapping the way forward.”