Homophobic Harassment

Back to all Motions

2002 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2002
Carried as Amended

Conference notes:

1.That harassment of lesbian and gay workers continues unabated despite the pending equalities legislation, and that one tactic becoming prevalent in such harassment is use of the media to smear lesbian and gay workers;

2.That the use of Commander Brian Paddick is only one example of such harassment using the homophobic agenda of the Daily Mail, and that often local papers and radio stations run similar stories or carry letters attacking the dignity of lesbian and gay workers, this is particularly prevalent when lesbians and gay men are working in caring professions dealing with children;

3.That the harassment of gay men who have been arrested for consensual sexual activities under the discriminatory laws is often followed by harassment in the workplace and from the media;

4.That the new equality directive in itself will not prevent such harassment, and that employers have a duty to ensure that they have effective policies to tackle it, including pursuing cases where the media has been used as a vehicle to further the campaign of harassment and intimidation;

5.6.That we should work with other equality groups, in particular with black, disabled and women’s groups who have all continued to fight against the continued harassment of their communities pursued both in the work-place, through the media and in society.


Conference is concerned about employers such as Waltham Forest and Nottinghamshire County, who are already considering initiating monitoring schemes for Lesbian and Gay employees – despite this being outwith their responsibilities under the incoming legislation. We fear that this will further disenfranchise Lesbian and Gay employees, who do not wish to be “outed” at work. Further, we fear that the employers will hide behind inaccurate figures when considering funding for Lesbian and Gay groups within their constituencies (i.e. self help support groups, advice lines, sexual health shops etc). Members will fear that they may be leaving themselves open to victimisation and/or discrimination as a direct consequence of coming out through this monitoring process.

Conference condemns:

A.The homophobic campaigns undertaken by the press and media, in particular those by the Daily Mail including their high profile attacks on Commander Brian Paddick.

B.Employers, including the Metropolitan Police, who fail to defend the rights and dignity of their employees who face such malicious attacks, hiding behind the excuse these are in the public domain and are not workplace issues.

C.Those who pursue vindictive campaigns against individuals in particular those carried out where a relationship has broken down; those pursued on grounds of racism, sexism, disablism or homophobia and those that stem from institutionalised oppression.

D.The continued place of Clause 28 on the statute books in England and Wales that offers solace and support to those engaging in personal and institutional homophobia.

Conference instructs the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to:

i.continue to work with UNISON and the trade union movement to help ensure that the implementation of the new employment protection extends as far as possible to cover harassment campaigns within the workplace and where the media is used as a tool to pursue such;

iiensure that advice and guidance is provided to regional lesbian and gay groups as well as to branches on how to fight such discrimination using the new legislation, learning from both the good and bad experiences gained from using existing equalities legislation and campaigns that have used such legislation to protect and enhance rights;

iii.provide advice and guidance to branches on monitoring schemes, along with appropriate training for members and branches, and information for members;

iv.ensure that UNISON produces specific and tailored training and publicity materials promoting the new rights and challenges of the pending legislation and the importance of achieving high profile successful cases to help set positive precedents for use in the future;

v.continue its opposition to high profile cases such as that of Brian Paddick, and to work with other lesbian and gay campaigning groups to seek to challenge such through the media, through our own publications and by raising such cases via our trade union and political networks;

vi.further renew efforts and campaign to repeal Clause 28 from teh statute books, whether it be through negotiations and discussions around the proposed equalities legislation or work on bullying and harassment in the Education system;

vii.continue its work to highlight the existence and prevalence of institutional homophobia in most of our workplaces (both public and private sector), in society and still now in the law, seeking all appropriate activities to campaign against such institutional homophobia and recognising that the new employment legislation is only a very small step on the way to combating centuries of discrimination, oppression and harassment plus the continued prejudice and failure to recognise and respect the lives and lifestyles of lesbians and gay men.