Persecution of LGBT People

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2007 National LGBT Conference
6 November 2007

Conference recognises that homophobia continues in the UK. Despite many welcome changes in Legislation, acts of hatred and persecution towards LGBT people continues to poison our society. This was tragically illustrated in April 2007 when James Kerr, an employee of Perth and Kinross Council, was the victim of a horrific homophobic attack in his local community. Three young men (21, 19 and 15 years old) kicked Mr Kerr around the head and body and left him bleeding to death in a park while they went on to a party to brag about what they’d just done. Convictions of murder and culpable homicide were secured on 16th October and the three shall be sentenced in the High Court of Edinburgh on 9 November 2007.

This heinous crime reminds us how far we’ve come yet how far we’ve still to go in our struggle for a just and equitable UK in which LGBT citizens are afforded the full protection of the Law. In recent years we’ve campaigned for and witnessed major Legislative progress – the repeal of the institutionally homophobic ‘Section 2A’ in Scotland (‘Section 28’ in England and Wales); the introduction of the ‘Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations’ which outlaws discrimination towards LGBT people by businesses and service providers; and very recently, the proposal for a ‘Sentencing of Offences Aggravated by Prejudice Bill’ (Scotland) aimed at extending the law on hate crimes to those who are disabled and/or LGBT.

Legislation is, however, only the start. This conference believes that we must now start to look at other ways that we can reach out to the ‘hearts and minds’ of communities and wider society, both by lobbying Government as well as more direct action by UNISON itself – for example, a public awareness campaign through the General Political Fund. Therefore this Conference agrees that we will discuss these issues in our various Branch and Regional committee’s and structures taking local action when able and necessary, as well as considering information ideas and proposals that we can relay back to the National LGBT Committee on how to tackle the wider issues related to LGBT persecution.

Accordingly, this conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

1.discuss these issues within its structures;

2.liaise with Branch & Regional committee’s;

3.bring forward proposals to 2008 National LGBT Conference as to what other action can be taken.