Civil Servants to Get Lessons from Actors on Anti-Gay Bullying; 'Pointless' Plan: Murdo Fraser

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Byline: Mark Howarth

MINISTERS are set to hire actors to help civil servants pretend to begay in a bizarre crackdown on workplace discrimination.

In the latest example of the mushrooming 'diversity culture', a theatre groupis to be drafted in to teach Scottish Executive officials about homophobia.

Under the extraordinary equality project, actors will take part in mini-playswhere gay people are bullied because of their sexuality.

The aim of the workshops is to ensure that straight civil servants are aware ofthe problems suffered by homosexuals so they will be more sympathetic to gaycolleagues.

Staff will be asked to 'look at and explore' the experience of being bullied byheterosexuals, with the actors urging them to imagine being gay.

But last night the project was branded a 'complete waste of taxpayers' money'after it emerged that the Executive has not recorded a single case of bullyingbased on sex or sexuality among its staff in the last year.

The move also raises the prospect of civil servants leaving their desks to actas gays in the workshop playlets rather than getting on with their work.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said: 'The Executive seemshell-bent on pursuing an agenda which is, at best, totally irrelevant to thevast majority of Scottish people.

'It's not just the cost of hiring theatre groups, it's the management timeinvolved and the hours civil servants will spend attending these workshopsinstead of doing their jobs.

'And, to make matters worse, there is no evidence that a problem even existswith this type of bullying. The SNP is promising us more efficient government -but this revelation appears to be completely at odds with that ambition.' Thetheatre workshops were unveiled in an Executive report into its own performanceon ensuring equality within its workforce. …