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2009 National LGBT Conference
24 September 2009

Conference welcomes the adoption by 2009 TUC Congress of a motion proposed by the Fire Brigades Union and a statement from the General Council, condemning the Israeli offensive on Gaza and its continuing blockade on the territory, calling for a negotiated settlement based on international law and justice for the Palestinians, and committing to work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to build a boycott campaign targeted at goods from illegal settlements and campaign for disinvestment by companies involved in the occupation and the wall

Conference also welcomes the decision of 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Conference to instruct the National LGBT Committee to continue to develop its work amongst LGBT members to win support for the Palestinian people in line with UNISON policy.

Conference notes that the language of LGBT rights has increasingly been used by pro-Israel organisations and individuals to criticise support from within the LGBT communities for the rights of the Palestinian people and that:

1.There have been a number of articles in LGBT media comparing LGBT rights in Israel with the absence of such rights in other countries in the Middle East, some of which present a picture of “tolerant”, gay-friendly Israel and homophobic, “Islamofascist” Palestine.

2.Pro-Israel lobbyists declared their intention to threaten government and corporate sponsorship of the 2009 Toronto Pride Festival unless the organisation banned pro-Palestinian marchers from the parade

Conference recognises that homophobia is a problem in Palestinian society and that, as a result, many LGBT Palestinians face social ostracism and discrimination, and in some cases, physical violence. At the same time, however, there are many openly LGBT Palestinians and there are now two Palestinian LGBT organisations (ASWAT and Al-Qaws) working to support LGBT Palestinians and to promote respect for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society.

Conference further recognises that Israel only enshrines some rights for some LGBT people. Palestinian citizens of Israel, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, are second-class citizens, who face legally sanctioned and everyday discrimination and racism in all areas of life. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are subjected to collective punishment, restricted freedom of movement, routine human rights abuses, detentions, checkpoints, and bombing campaigns.

Conference notes that LGBT conference reaffirmed its view that:

A.The only political framework capable of guaranteeing the human rights of LGBT Palestinians – or any other Palestinians – will be an independent Palestinian state;

B.Whilst UNISON should address the human rights of LGBT Palestinians this must always be in the context of UNISON’s policies on Palestine as a whole.

Conference therefore instructs the National Executive Council to continue to work with the National LGBT Committee on these issues and to support the Committee to develop its work to win support for the Palestinian people in line with UNISON policy, which includes:

I.Continuing to publicise the work of PSC, and encouraging LGBT members to join

II.Developing links with Palestinian LGBT organisations

III. Working with the PSC to assist PSC to develop its links with Palestinian LGBT organisations, develop its LGBT network, and produce a factsheet of accurate information on the situation of Palestinian LGBT people

IV.Continuing to work with the International Department to maintain links with the Palestinian General Federation of Trades Unions with a view to raising LGBT human rights issues as part of UNISON’s work on Palestine

V.Raising these issues with the TUC LGBT Committee, working with the TUC and sister unions to raise awareness amongst LGBT communities.