- 2004 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
- 24 September 2004
Many of us have fought for years for years for equality in all areas. We have had some successes, including some excellent employment laws. However, as many lesbians and gay men are aware, these laws can sometimes be used against us and when they are there is very little in the way of information and support.
One example with very particular relevance to local government is that of the vulnerability of our members to false accusations of sexual harassment. Many of our members are regularly alone either with one other colleague or with a single member of the public or client in the course of their duties, including workers in home care, small libraries, careers advice, environmental health, trading standards, schools, voluntary organisations, to name just a few of the sectors. Conference notes that any member may be at the receiving end of such a false accusation, but there appears to be growing evidence that lesbian, gay and bisexual workers are particularly likely to face this threat.
Without question we must support anyone going through genuine harassment and without doubt UNISON and other trade unions must continue to provide information and support. However what about the victims of false allegations? Many of us now either have first hand experience or experience of representing members who are clearly the victim of false allegations. Often we notice that using the harassment policy often represents an easy way to harass someone through false accusations that are malicious in nature and can have devastating effects on our members’ health and career prospects.
Whilst welcoming the strides we have made in saying harassment in any form is not acceptable we need to be aware of the dangers that we may be more vulnerable to false allegations being made against us.
A starting point should be to gather evidence of just how many members, including in particular bisexual members, lesbians and gay men have suffered at the hands of false accusers, as well as the outcomes of such cases. We need to ensure that the right to representation of members who are accused of harassment is also met according to UNISON’s policies and procedures.
This Conference calls on the Service Group Executive, Regions and branches to work to:
1.Raise awareness of these issues, working with Self-Organised Groups;
2.Ensure issues are raised with employers when negotiating harassment policies;
3.Produce guidance for representatives and negotiators to ensure that members facing false allegations are given adequate support.
This Conference calls for the Service Group Executive to report on progress to the 2006 Service group Conference.