Charter for Change for LGBT Equality

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2006 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2006

Conference welcomes advances in legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. These include Gender Recognition and Civil Partnership, outlawing of sexual orientation discrimination in goods, facilities and services and the promised Single Equality Act, which should enact duties across all grounds to actively promote equality as well as combat discrimination.

However, disadvantage and discrimination are still widespread. For example:

1.Young people still experience an unsupportive education system where bullying on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is often not even recognised, let alone addressed;

2.Many employers have done little to change their practices after the introduction of the Gender Reassignment and Sexual Orientation Regulations;

3.Evidence is building on health inequalities in such areas as Coronary Heart Disease, substance use (including tobacco), anxiety and depression and trans people continue to struggle to gain access to health services;

4.There is still much to do to tackle hate crime and negative attitudes towards LGBT people;

5.It is rare for service providers to consider how their services meet the needs of LGBT users.

Conference welcomes work undertaken by the Department of Health’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisory Group to identify issues of Health Inequalities affecting LGBT communities within England and recognises similar initiatives in Scotland and Wales and work by UNISON’s LGBT group to raise awareness of these issues.

Conference also welcomes the growing number of organisations that are now implementing inclusive Equality Schemes across equality strands. Many local authorities are now using the Equality Standard for Local Government, but incorporating issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and other equality strands, including using Equality Impact Assessments across all strands.

Conference recognises the pivotal role of public services in promoting well being, combating inequality and creating community cohesion and believes that we have a historic opportunity to build on our legal advances to deliver equality for all. Conference welcomes UNISON’s own developing, inclusive Equality Scheme and believes that UNISON should be at the forefront of these endeavours. These will include:

A.Positive employment opportunities – not mere compliance with the law but a genuine commitment to employing LGBT people, with a clear commitment to dealing with discrimination and promoting equality across all equality grounds;

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) and tackling social exclusion and lack of community cohesion;

D.Ensuring young LGBT people and children of LGBT families get a fair deal from education and young people’s services; and that the needs of older LGBT people are recognised in the provision of services to them;

E. Inclusive services for health and social care, education, housing, leisure, public safety and law enforcement.

Conference therefore instructs the National Executive Council to work with the National LGBT Committee to:

IPublish and promote a ‘Charter for Change for LGBT Equality’, building on previous UNISON publications on health, employment and the public services equality agenda;

IISeek to work jointly with other relevant organisations such as the TUC, other trade unions, Local Government and Health bodies, devolved and UK wide Government bodies and community based organisations to highlight the potential for concerted action to bring about significant benefits;

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

IVCampaign for a positive duty to promote equality across all strands in the Single Equality Act and for legislative progress in addressing incitement to hatred and violence;

VAsk organisations to sign up to the Charter and report examples of good practice through the UNISON website and journals

VIEncourage the widest possible involvement of branches, regions and service groups, emphasising the opportunities to recruit and organise LGBT members within UNISON.