Equality measures backed at Scottish Labour conference

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Plans to improve equality in Scottish Labour have been backed by delegates at the party’s conference in Dundee.

The proposals include creating two new positions for women on the ruling Scottish Executive Committee, to be elected each year at a national women’s conference.

The conference also approved affiliating the Scottish party with BAME (black and minority ethnic) Labour as well as the shortlisting of minority ethnic candidates, diverse selection committees and anonymous reporting of abuse or discrimination.

The recommendations were included in an interim report on the party’s anti-discrimination and harassment policy requested by leader Richard Leonard.

It also asks the party to consider further changes to the size and structure of the ruling body to include underrepresented groups.

Mr Leonard said: “I am delighted that conference has passed the interim report on how we will support BAME members, how we will not only have zero tolerance towards any harassment or any discrimination, but how we will promote equality and diversity in our party.

“When it comes to eradicating inequality, Scottish Labour will listen to all voices, and we will act, educating our members and mobilising our movement.

“The Labour Party is the party of equality. There is no place for racial, gender or other forms of discrimination or harassment in our party, and these are important steps towards making the party itself more inclusive in its structures and decision making.

“We will continue to work towards building  a society free from all forms of sexism, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, discrimination against disabled people and bigotry and prejudice in all their manifestations.”

Anas Sarwar MSP, who challenged Mr Leonard for the leadership and has spoken out about the racism and Islamophobia he experienced during the campaign, welcomed the progress made but said there was work still to do.

He said: “When I started the campaign against everyday racism and Islamophobia five weeks ago I was clear that this was not about one individual or one party.

“But it was about challenging a culture that impacted on workplaces, campuses and playgrounds across the country.

“As the Labour Party – a political movement born out of the desire to fight for equality, to defeat prejudice, and to end injustice – we must hold ourselves to a higher standards.”

Backing the report, inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said it marked the start of a “culture change” in the party.

She said: “It may take time, but it will only happen if everyone takes responsibility for their own behaviours and to call out and report behaviours.”

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