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MSP Emma Roddick flags concerns as she leads debate on LGBTQI+ alcohol harm in Scottish Parliament

By Imogen James

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MSP Emma Roddick.
MSP Emma Roddick.

THE SNP MSP, Emma Roddick, led the debate yesterday to discuss the LGBTQI+ community's experience of alcohol services in Scotland.

The debate was prompted by cross-party support for a motion by the Highlands and Islands MSP noting the publication of SHAAP’s report What are LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of alcohol services in Scotland? A qualitative study of service users and service providers.

Ms Roddick has said she is the first openly LGBTQI+ Highland Councillor.

Commenting, Emma Roddick said: “I haven’t been able to shake this report since I read it. LGBTQI+ people are not genetically programmed to drink more alcohol than our cisgender, heterosexual neighbours: this is a societal issue.

“I’ve heard people say they have to drink before they can have sex, or just so that they can live with themselves, because they have internalised this idea that’s been pressed on them for most of their lives that their sexuality is wrong. That feeling can be intensified when you live in a rural area or small town where it seems like everyone knows your business.

“From learning how to shave to learning how to have safe sex and relationships, queer people learn from WhatsApp groups, online forums, and whispers about the things that schools and families teach cis, straight people by default. If alcohol services are designed for straight people and only prepared to deal with straight people, or if that’s even just the perception, then you’re immediately less likely to get queer folk through the door, let alone be able to help them through it.

“Given we are more likely to experience harm, it is vital that alcohol services are equipped to specifically support LGBTQI+ people.”

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