Beyond Mere Legal Equality – The Campaign for a Charter for Change

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2006 National LGBT Conference
28 July 2006

Conference notes recent changes to legislation to provide for LGBT equality – notably the recently introduced provisions in goods, facilities and services and the promised Single Equality Act but recognises a number of areas where LGBT people are profoundly disadvantaged by a society where heterosexual norms still prevail and we still deal with a legacy of prejudice.

In spite of this evidence of inequality abounds. Young people still experience an education system that is not supportive and where bullying is often not addressed. Many employers have done little to change their practices after the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. Evidence continues to build around health inequalities in such areas as Coronary Heart Disease, substance use (including tobacco), anxiety and depression. There is still a need to do more to tackle hate crime and generalised negative attitudes towards LGBT people.

Conference recalls Composite A carried by the 2005 LGBT Conference which sought to initiate a broad based ‘Charter for Change’ campaign encouraging public service providers to make a firm commitment to LGBT equality and for UNISON to seek to take the lead for such a broad based campaign at national and regional level, involving the TUC and the voluntary sector, so that we can make change a reality in our lives.

Conference welcomes the first steps taken by the National Committee in raising these concerns and asks that work continues in this area which recognises the need for all public bodies to promote:

1. Equality in health outcomes – both in physical and mental health;

2.Creation of social capital and community development;

3.Positive employment;

4.Public safety;

5.Combating social isolation.

Conference believes we should seek to encourage all organisations – service providers and employers to commit to the following:

A.Positive employment opportunities – not just mere compliance with the law but a genuine commitment to employing LGBT people, with a clear commitment to dealing with discrimination;

B.Commitment to LGBT visibility in all areas of work;

C.Commitment to building LGBT communities (e.g. Pride events, local initiatives, opportunities for support);

D.Ensuring young LGBT people as well as children of LGBT parents get a fair deal from education and young people’s services.

Conference therefore commits the National Committee to continue working on this campaign by:

IDevising and disseminating a Charter for Change (building on previous UNISON publications on areas such as health, employment and the public services equality agenda);

IIConsidering how best to develop joint work with others (e.g. TUC LGBT committee, other Trade Unions, and LGBT community based organisations) to progress this work;

IIIEnsure that we fully address issues concerning black and disabled LGBT communities within our campaign;

IVCampaigning for a positive duty to promote equality across all strands including gender identity and sexual orientation to be included in the Single Equality Act as well as the need to address incitement to hatred and violence;

VAsking organisations to sign up to the Charter and reporting on examples of good practice in Out in UNISON;

VIEncouraging the widest possible involvement of branch and regional LGBT groups in this campaign.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee to carry forward such a campaign, reporting to the 2007 Conference on progress but recognising that the campaign may need to last longer than one year and to use recent and forthcoming legislation covering employment equality and goods, facilities and services to call on employers and service providers to commit to a positive agenda of change to make life better for LGBT people.