The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 (the Act), passed by the Scottish Parliament, seeks to secure the status of Gaelic as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language.
The Act builds on existing measures to support the rights of Gaelic and other minority languages, including: the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992); the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1992); Framework Convention of the Protection of National Minorities (1995); and clauses relating to Gaelic in education, media, civil courts and crofting legislation of the UK and Scottish Parliaments. Among other things, the Act requires Bòrd na Gàidhlig to prepare and submit to the Scottish Ministers a National Gaelic Language Plan. As such, the National Plan has legal status and is more than a list of corporate priorities.
The central purpose of this Plan is to encourage and enable more people to use Gaelic more often and in a wider range of situations. The key messages, aims, priorities and new commitments contained in the Plan all contribute to achieving this increased use of Gaelic. Principal amongst these are the following:
- Gaelic belongs to the whole of Scotland
- Promoting a positive image of Gaelic
- Increasing the learning of Gaelic; and
- Increasing the use of Gaelic.