Congratulations Kez!


Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has won the Member of the Year award at the Pink News awards.

In a ceremony in London, Kez used her keynote speech to say that Scotland must guard against any sense of complacency on gay rights, and continue to fight against discrimination and for equality.

You can read Kez's speech in full, below:

"Truth be told, I feel a little embarrassed about receiving an award for coming out. 

Specifically because the journey for me to do so was made so much easier by those who went before me. Many of the people in this room have been blazing a trail for LGBT equality for far longer than I have identified as gay.  

And I simply can’t stand on a platform like this tonight without thanking you for your determination, your commitment and your pride in creating this eminently more equal country that we experience today. 

While being out may be new to me, I have long defined as a feminist.  

In fact, fighting for gender equality is at the very core of who I am and what defines my politics. 

Much has been made in recent times of the dominance of women in Scottish politics. Scotland has its first Female First Minister and the three largest parties are led by women. 

But that in and of itself is not enough.  

Yes, we can be great role models for the next generation of women, but we have to understand that we live very privileged lives in urban centres with a huge amount of support to be the very best that we can be. 

What has having 3 female leaders delivered for women in Scotland? 

What about these three women. The woman facing a violent partner in the Scottish Highlands. To a mum in Shettleston working 3 jobs on the national minimum wage. To young girl in Glenrothes daring to dream. 

It’s just not enough to be a woman in politics.  

We need to be feminists with influence to actually drive the cultural change that we want to see, not to simply settle for embodying it. 

It’s because of those women that I’ve never felt such a strong sense of responsibility – a duty - to deliver for women. 

And whilst I’ve felt that responsibility as a woman since I was elected 5 years ago. I know feel that same sense of responsibility as an openly gay woman. 

It’s not enough for me to just be openly gay. 

Standing next to my fiancé Lousie on polling day, and casting our vote together sends a powerful message about the place of LGBT people in Scottish society, but it has to mean more. 

I know I have a duty to use that power and influence to deliver for the LGBT community. 

Because as much as I had a hugely positive experience coming out - that's simply not the case for everyone today. 

We like to say Scotland now has the gayest Parliament in the world, that Scotland is a wonderful place to be gay. And for many it is... but we must guard against any sense of complacency. 

We know from our experience that it is often when people feel at their most insecure, their most threatened, that hate crime and intolerance comes to the fore. 

We saw that recently with the doubling in reported hate crimes. 

And when times are tough, it is too often minority groups – of all types – that are first to pay the price. 

So we can’t lose sight of the battles that are still ahead for us. 

Not just in battling the discrimination that still exists in many of our schools and workplaces and hate that still scars our communities, but in the fight for resources and support that we need to thrive.

That’s why after the election, with colleagues from other parties, I helped establish the Scottish Parliament’s first Cross Party Group on LGBTI issues. 

Why I re-established the Cross Party Group on Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses. 

Why I have led the debate and pushed the Scottish Government to take action to ensure access to PrEp in Scotland.  

And then, just yesterday, why I pushed the Scottish Government to take action in Scotland to pardon gay men who were convicted under homophobic laws. 

A change, I’m pleased to say, that the Scottish Government will soon be making. 

So, in accepting this award tonight, I’m not taking it for myself.

I’m taking it for the generations of LGBT politicians who I hope will come after me, and who every one of us in this room have to inspire to come forward. 

And for all the LGBT people in public office, and public life, today who – for one reason or another – have decided not to come out yet. 

The words of Harvey Milk should ring in our ears: 

“Coming out is the most political thing you can do.”