Decolonising LGBT equality – aid conditionality and LGBT human rights

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2012 National LGBT Conference
26 July 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference notes with concern the statement by Prime Minister David Cameron that overseas aid should be cut to countries which criminalise homosexuality.

Conference notes that UNISON is opposed to such aid conditionality. Conference believes that it would not advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights or equality but rather would create a real risk of a serious backlash against LGBT communities and organisations, and against human rights defenders, particularly in the Global South. Homosexuality is strongly portrayed in some countries as somehow being a ‘western import’ and LGBT rights are perceived as the result of ‘western influence’. Cameron’s announcement, made without any reference to local struggles for LGBT rights or the role of LGBT and broader social justice movements in such countries, feeds and supports these notions.

Conference recognises that in most countries this could affect, the laws criminalising homosexuality were imposed by the British colonial power. Economic threats to try to force decriminalisation smack of neo-colonialism.

Conference also recognises that singling out LGBT rights in a context of wider human rights violations in some countries, reinforces the notion that LGBT rights are ‘special rights’ and considered to be ‘more important’ than other human rights.

Conference believes that such a reduction in aid would penalise the poorest and most vulnerable people in developing economies – including LGBT people – affecting famine prevention, provision of clean water, education and health care.

Conference heeds the concerns raised by activists – LGBT and others – in the Global South that aid conditionality would lead to reprisals and scapegoating for them. It recognises that there has already been evidence of the announcement being used by some governments and political leaders to scapegoat LGBT people and exacerbate an environment of intolerance. It is essential that we listen to these front line activists, taking the lead from those directly affected in the types of action that they would like us to take.

Conference believes that aid should not be withheld from those who need it. In order to assist LGBT people whose human rights are denied, we need to engage in genuine dialogue and solidarity and get behind their initiatives, not decide what should be done for them.

Conference therefore instructs the National LGBT Committee, working with appropriate structures of the union, to:

1)Campaign to expose the dangers of such aid conditionality and promote an understanding of international solidarity amongst LGBT members;

2)Work with the UNISON international department to explore how UNISON’s International Development Fund can be used to support LGBT equality initiatives.