Celebrating Our Milestones and Challenging Inequality

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Conference
2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
Date
26 September 2003
Decision

Conference celebrates the recent successes in working towards lesbian and gay (L&G) equality. In particular we have seen the introduction of an equal age of consent, implementation of the Human Rights Act, protection against workplace discrimination, improved tenancy and adoption rights, the repeal of Section 28, the repeal of discriminatory sexual offences legislation and the recent publication of Government proposals for the recognition of same sex partners.

Conference believes that it is crucial to mark the milestones of the progress we have achieved as well as to recognise the important role played by the trade union movement at all levels in the struggle for lesbian and gay equality. Conference notes that UNISON has been active in our long campaign from their early backing of Pride, pushing for a TUC L&G (now LGBT) Conference and Committee, political lobbying, taking a lead in international work and the progress made in negotiations with employers on equality issues.

Conference recognises, however, that true equality does not exist if:

1.there is no parallel protection from discrimination in areas outside employment (i.e. provision of goods and services);

2. statutory bodies are not under a duty to promote lesbian and gay equality;

3.marriage is available only to opposite-sex couples, married persons, as such are legally protected from discrimination but unmarried persons are not and discrimination then justified on the basis of “marriage-exemption” regulations; and

4. institutionalised homophobia and heterosexism is not challenged.

Conference notes that whilst the Government is proposing formal recognition of same-sex partnerships that the providers of goods and services could refuse to recognise or respect same sex partners. Lesbians and gay men could register their partnership but be refused a venue to celebrate that commitment.

Conference instructs the NEC in liaison with the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to:

A.Prioritise a campaign for the introduction of legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services.

B.Continue UNISON’s campaign for the introduction of a positive duty to cover the public and private sectors to promote equality, to be extended to all forms of discrimination including institutionalised homophobia, heterosexism, ageism and disablism;

C.Continue UNISON’s campaign to ensure true equality for lesbians and gay men in work and wider society.

Conference further instructs the NEC to work with all parts of the union and to use all appropriate resources to further these campaigns and to raise awareness of these issues with branches and members.