Defending the Human Rights Act

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2009 National LGBT Conference
24 September 2009

Conference is appalled that the Conservatives have stated their intention to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA). It will come as no surprise that the same intention is included the BNP’s manifesto.

Conference notes the important role that the HRA plays in organising, bargaining and negotiating on behalf of trade union members, for example:

1.Article 8: right to respect for private and family life – has been used successfully to recognise rights for LGBT people;

2.Article 11: freedom of assembly and association – this specifically states ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests’. This article has been used successfully by sister trade unions to expel BNP members. It also enables us to join peaceful protests and participate in pride marches;

3.Article 6: the right to a fair trial – this means that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. This article was successfully used to challenge the fairness of provisional inclusion in the barred list under the Protection of Vulnerable Adults/Protection of Children Act. It is a fundamental principle that we argue should be enshrined in the vetting and barring scheme of the Independent Safeguarding Authority;

4.Article 4: the prohibition of slavery and forced labour – fundamental principles protecting the most vulnerable workers.

Conference welcomes Liberty’s Common Values campaign, which aims to broaden understanding and respect for human rights values and to defend the HRA. Liberty pledges to bring human rights into the classroom, the workplace and the living room and is seeking the support of trade unions in this campaign. UNISON, with its long history of defending and campaigning for human rights and using human rights based approaches in employment and service delivery, is well placed to be at the forefront of this campaign.

Conference therefore instructs the National Executive Council to:

A.Work with appropriate structures of the union, including the General Political Fund and Labour Link, to campaign to prevent the repeal of the HRA;

B.Support Liberty’s campaign to save the HRA;

C.Produce a factsheet on the relevance of the HRA to trade unions, employment and equality, publicising and distributing this widely.