Equalities in the Line of Fire

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2009 National LGBT Conference
30 July 2009

Conference recognises the changing economic and political climate and the impact this may have on defending and extending the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

In times of economic hardship, women, Black, Disabled and LGBT workers suffer disproportionately. This is intensified as the help offered by public services in supporting vulnerable people comes under increased threat from spending cuts. Furthermore, often community and voluntary organisations and events set up to organise and support women, Black, Disabled and LGBT people may also see public funding cuts. In addition, record rises in unemployment provide an argument for employers and the Government against implementing existing equality provisions or extending equality legislation at this time.

The equalities agenda is under further attack in the face of the recent political success of the British National Party, the take over of local government by the Tories, and the growing likelihood that a Tory UK government will be elected in 2010.

Conference notes the huge gains LGBT people have achieved under the Labour government, such as the equalisation of the age of consent, prohibition of discrimination in the workplace, equality in the provision of goods and services, Civil Partnerships, and improved access to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) for Lesbians.

Conference notes that the Conservatives voted against the Equality Bill and against improved access to fertility rights for Lesbians. Conference further notes that they have aligned themselves with the homophobic Polish Law and Justice party in the European Parliament and that the Conservatives have already suggested reducing the rights of non-biological parents, if elected to Westminster.

Conference further believes that trade union rights will also be seriously under threat, as will our terms and conditions including our pension rights as public service workers.

Conference believes that, in a time of recession, of political success of the far right, and of a potentially hostile government, it will be more important than ever to tackle inequality on all levels through the formation of a progressive alliance of trade unions, charities, grass roots campaigning organisations, and other equality and human rights groups.

Conference therefore instructs the National Committee to:

1.Continue, through Labour Link, the General Political Fund and LGBT Labour, to press for the strengthening of equalities legislation;

2.Seek out opportunities to work in partnership with other organisations which accord with UNISON’s values and LGBT campaigning objectives;

3.Strengthen links with other equality groups both in UNISON and through the TUCs to challenge attempts to play different equality streams off against each other;

4.Engage with and publicise the UNISON Million Voices campaign;

5.Work with, contribute to, and publicise, the Positively Public and NHS Together campaigns;

6.Update and develop the LGBT campaigning toolkit and distribute to branches and regions;

7.Push for an early roll-out of Equality Reps across all branches