THE first openly LGBT+ MSP for the Highlands and Islands has been appointed co-convener of the LGBT+ Cross Party Group in Holyrood.

The SNP’s Emma Roddick will join Conservative MSP Jamie Greene in the role. The group reconvened last week, with Roddick taking to Twitter to express her gratitude and drive to continue supporting the LGBT+ community.

Roddick said: “I am honoured to have been chosen to co-convene this group. As the first out MSP for my region, I understand the unique challenges facing LGBT+ people in the Highlands and Islands and recognise the importance of having that voice in Parliament.

“I was delighted to get to attend Orkney’s first Pride this year, where there was a real sense of changing times and acceptance from the community following a successful fight by the organisers to get the Pride flag flying over the Town House in Kirkwall.

“I’m now looking forward to Shetland’s first – postponed due to Covid-19 – in June 2022.

“Having grown up in the Highlands, I know that those in rural and island communities often experience greater loneliness due to fewer opportunities for socialising with others – it can feel like you’re the only LGBT+ person in your town. You often face closer scrutiny from peers, with everyone in a small community knowing everyone’s business, and it can be more difficult to access health services – for example, the only Gender Identity Clinic in the region is in Inverness.

“It is incredibly important that rural and island voices are heard on LGBT+ issues.”