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2009 National LGBT Conference
11 November 2009

Conference notes that UNISON has called for many years for peace with justice for the Palestinian people and that the resolution adopted by National Delegate Conference 2009 reiterated UNISON’s belief that a just solution must be based on international law, and that Israel must:

1.Withdraw to its 1967 borders;

2.Allow the refugees the right of return;

3.Remove all settlements from the Palestinian Occupied Territories and occupied Syrian Al-Joulan;

4.Demolish the apartheid wall;

5Respect the Palestinian people’s right to national self-determination and to establish an independent state.

Conference notes that the resolution also:

A.Recognised the importance of the work within our union to win support for the Palestinian people, to campaign for recognition of their rights and to bring pressure on the British government to end complicity in denying the rights of the Palestinian people;

B.Welcomed the increasing involvement of the trade union movement around the world in solidarity with the Palestinians;

C.Stated that UNISON should continue to press the case for an economic, cultural and sporting boycott of Israel in line with the 2007 NDC resolution if the occupation is not ended.

Conference further notes that the language of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights is increasingly being used by pro-Israel organisations and individuals to criticise support from within LGBT communities for the rights of the Palestinian people and that:

I.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;

II.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 recalls the resolutions on Palestine of the 2004 Lesbian and Gay Conference, and the 2005 and 2006 LGBT Conferences. It reaffirms those decisions and continues to consider 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 Committee to develop its work amongst LGBT members to win support for the Palestinian people in line with UNISON policy, and to continue to:

i.Publicise the work of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), and encourage LGBT members to join PSC;

ii. Work with the PSC to assist PSC to develop its links with Palestinian LGBT organisations and its LGBT network;

iii.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.