- 2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
- 1 August 2003
- Carried as Amended
Conference celebrates the fact that next week sees the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations come into force. The regulations will make it unlawful to discriminate against lesbians and gay men in the workplace.
Conference applauds the fact that the regulations cover all sectors and that there is no small employer exemption.
Conference recognises the input of UNISON in campaigning and negotiating in respect of the regulations has achieved much and that the Government has taken into account some of our responses to the consultation. Conference is concerned that the Government has succumbed to pressures from religious organisations which may now have the effect that religious employers may continue to discriminate against lesbians and gay men.
Conference believes that the regulations do not comply with the European Directive due to Regulation 7(3) – the religious exemption – and will be interpreted as permission to discriminate against lesbians and gay men on religious grounds with the only recourse being available through taking action in an employment tribunal.
In addition, Conference remains concerned over the marriage exemption clause which at the time of passing of the Regulations remained blatant discrimination against lesbians and gay men and is not in keeping with UNISON policy particularly in the area of pensions where we believe that survivors benefits should be able to be passed to a nominated beneficiary.
Conference notes that teaching unions are in the process of issuing judicial review proceedings against the government and supports any action taken by UNISON, external organisations and other trade unions in respect of removing or limiting the application of Regulation 7(3).
Conference is also disappointed over the Government’s lack of commitment to the introduction of legislation covering discrimination in the areas of goods and services and the introduction of a positive duty.
Conference therefore instructs the National Lesbian and Gay Committee to:
1.liase with the National Executive Council, Labour Link and the General Political Fund for continued support for any legal action and campaign for strengthening of the regulations, so as to ensure that every part of the unions takes responsibility for their successful implementation and that all union representatives are trained on the issues;
2.work with other trade unions and external organisations in challenging regulation 7(3);
3.work with service groups, regions and branches to:
a. publicise the regulations
b.make use of the negotiating guide and training materials on the regulations, so as to ensure that every part of the union takes responsibility for their successful implementation and that all union representatives are trained on the issues
c. urge them to renegotiate equality policies and procedures to ensure they include reference to sexual orientation;
d.encourage more lesbian and gay members to get involved as UNISON activists as workplace stewards, negotiators, learning representatives or tutors.