- 2004 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
- 30 July 2004
- Carried as Amended
Many of us have fought 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.
Take for example a lesbian or gay man who works alone with another male/female – as is the case in many voluntary organisations as well as lone workers in statutory organisations. What if the lesbian/gay man is falsely accused of sexual harassment by this colleague or a client?
There is a mass of support and information as to what to do if you are the person who brings the allegation and quite rightly so. However if you are the unfortunate victim of false allegations there is very little apart from website litigation ‘experts’ who want your money. In some cases allegations of harassment are malicious and vexatious and constitute a form of harassment, but with little redress.
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 allegations which 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 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.
Conference therefore instructs the National Committee to:
1.Use Out in UNISON to discuss the issues of false allegations;
2.Raise with the NEC the need for policies which recognise that spurious and malicious allegations may constitute a from of harassment and seek to ensure this point is included in branch bargaining advice;
3.Raise the issue of false allegations with other self organised groups;
4.Encourage regional groups to raise the issue at regional level.