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Scottish Parliament staff banned from wearing rainbow lanyards

The move has been taken to ‘minimise the risk of perceived bias’  (PA)
The move has been taken to ‘minimise the risk of perceived bias’ (PA)

Scottish Parliament staff have been banned from wearing rainbow lanyards or badges, officials said.

The move, which will see all personalised lanyards and badges relating to social causes banned, has been taken to “minimise the risk of perceived bias”.

The ban will only apply to Holyrood staff, not MSPs and their employees.

Clare Baker, Labour MSP, announced the policy on Thursday on behalf of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), the cross-party group of MSPs tasked with managing Holyrood.

Tory MSP Tess White asked about reports of some people being asked to remove badges or items of clothing linked to social movements – such as the purple, white and green of the suffragettes.

Ms Baker said: “Corporate body staff must conduct themselves in an impartial manner.

“As an update, corporate body staff have until recently been allowed to wear personalised lanyards. This was introduced in 2017 as part of diversity inclusion strategy.

“However, a review of the code of conduct has just been completed.

“A decision has been taken that all staff must wear the parliament-issued purple lanyard – staff who are employed by the corporate body.

“This decision will help to minimise the risk of perceived bias and avoid any perception that wearing such items may be influencing our own decision making.”

Staff will still be allowed to wear badges that show their pronouns, and poppies can still be worn as Poppy Scotland is the sole charity recognised by the SPCB.

In an email to staff on Wednesday, Holyrood’s head for people and culture Lorna Foreman said there had been accusations from groups that parliamentary staff could not be impartial during debates on government policy while sporting symbols which could be perceived as supporting one side.

She said: “Wearing personalised lanyards and/or pins and badges showing support for social movements and towards campaigns or organisations has led some organisations and individuals to consider that the Scottish parliamentary service cannot be impartial when supporting the parliament to debate government policy, proposed new laws and current significant societal issues.

“This decision will help to minimise the risk of perceived bias and avoid any perception that wearing such items may be influencing our own decision making.”