Making LGBT Equality a Reality

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2007 National LGBT Conference
19 September 2007

Conference notes that UNISON is founded on the principle of equality – this can only become reality where everyone takes responsibility for combating discrimination and promoting equality.

Conference believes that while UNISON has made significant progress towards the inclusion of its diverse membership in its structures, organising, negotiations and campaigning, full lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion has yet to be achieved and work needs to be continued to completely eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, embracing LGBT equality in everything the Union does.

Conference welcomes the development of a new one day training course for branch activists on LGBT equality – this will be a significant resource for activists at branch and regional level to identify ways in which LGBT equality can be pursued.

Conference further welcomes UNISON’s commitment to develop a Single Equality Scheme across all strands and believes we must grasp this opportunity to embed equality within all activities and at all levels of the Union. The Equality Scheme should become an effective tool for the promotion of LGBT equality, making all parts of the union a safe space for LGBT members to organise and actively participate.

In addition to continuing to campaign on issues of sexual orientation, Conference underscores the importance of protecting members from discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. Current legislation only protects from discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment. Conference notes that many trans people do not wish to or cannot access gender reassignment, for work, personal or health reasons or simply because the services are not available. Further, people may face discrimination because they define as intersex or gender variant.

Conference therefore welcomes UNISON’s robust submission to the Discrimination Law Review consultation on the Single Equality Act which highlighted this and the many other concerns of our LGBT, black, disabled and women members.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to urge all branches and regions to use the union’s Equality Scheme to:

1.Formulate strategies to eliminate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in our union, to share best practice and actively promote LGBT equality;

2.Publicise and use information, resources and tools to tackle the exclusion of and negative attitudes towards LGBT people and promote equality and positive images which reflect the diversity of LGBT people;

3.Support activists to establish and maintain LGBT Self Organised Groups.

Conference further instructs the NEC to work with the National LGBT Committee to:

A.Ensure that UNISON structures and literature are inclusive of the needs and issues of the diverse range of people identifying as LGBT, including issues of gender identity and gender expression;

B.Continue to campaign for positive legal protections against discrimination on grounds of gender identity and gender expression and for robust unified equalities legislation covering all equality strands including a positive duty to promote equality in the public, private and voluntary sectors.