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Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual & Transgender Conference 2005
11 November 2005

Conference welcomes the news that the Equality Bill was passed in the House of Lords on 9 November 2005 and that it allows the government to bring forward regulations to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services for LGB people as well as outlawing discrimination in goods, facilities and services on the grounds of religion and belief and welcomes a statement by Alan Johnson (Secretary of State for Trade and Industry) on the 10th November 2005 that the government is committed to legislating in this area.

Conference thanks all of our allies in the trade union and labour movement, who have come together to tell the government to make a very positive and public commitment to equality. Long may this continue!

Conference notes, however, that the bill will not afford such protection on the grounds of gender identity, and we continue to press for an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

Conference further notes that there will be a public consultation prior to drawing up such regulations and that there will inevitably be demands for exemptions (e.g. for religious groups and organisations) – in a similar way to the Employment Equality Regulations, noting that one Bed and Breakfast owner is already being quoted in the media as stating he intends to disregard any such legislation (reported in Gay.com on the 10th November 2005) and that several speakers in the House of Lords debate were expressly seeking exemptions for religious organisations.

Conference believes that any exemptions granted should be kept to an absolute minimum so that the legislation is robust and provides our communities with effective protection from discrimination in goods, facilities and services. In particular the regulations must not allow a general opt out for people with religious beliefs to discriminate against us and we must ensure that the regulations cover both private and public sectors and include the provision of education and services to young people (including protection for students in ‘Faith Schools’).

Conference therefore instructs the National Committee to:

1.Work proactively with the UNISON Labour Link, TUC LGBT Committee and the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights to ensure that the regulations allow for genuine protection against discrimination in all sectors and that any exemptions are kept to an absolute minimum;

2.Use both Out in UNISON and the monthly activist email to brief members on the Government’s consultation over the regulations, encouraging the widest possible participation by LGBT people and organisations;

3.Continue to use all available means to push for an amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) to ensure that trans people are protected from discrimination in goods, facilities and services, working with relevant trans campaigning groups such as Press for Change;

4.Recognise that the campaign on ending discrimination in goods, facilities needs to continue to be an ongoing priority for our group until such protection becomes a reality in all sectors and on the grounds of both sexual orientation and gender identity