Gender Equality Solidarity initiatives the first step in raising awareness for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality?

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2013 National LGBT Conference
31 July 2013
Carried as Amended

UNISON has long campaigned for the rights of Palestinian people, and works with trade unions, labour organisations and human rights groups in implementing its policy. More recently, UNISON has supported unions in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) who are working to ensure that their role as civil society organisations is established and workers’ rights are respected.

The Defence of Iranian Peoples’ Rights (CODIR), is one such organisation to which our trade union is affiliated. The significance for us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) international activists is that the struggle for equal rights for women and for a future determined not by dictatorship but by the people of Iran will begin the slow erosion of prejudice and discrimination that exists for people who identify as LGBT.

We know that the equality struggle is met with harsh oppression by the Iranian theocratic regime and that women are being silenced by every means – intimidation, incarceration, torture and sometimes death – for what they do to protest against abuse and discrimination, to demand that trade union and human rights are respected and to continue their progressive struggle for peace, democracy and justice.

Most of us take it for granted that we can organise and meet to discuss work problems, engage in political debate and challenge poor employer practices. In the MENA region this is all the more dangerous for our LGBT brothers and sisters, who risk intimidation, abuse and death.

Solidarity is the very basis of trade unionism, and should not stop at national borders. The updated 2013 ILGA world map depicting LGBT rights illustrates graphically which countries still have draconian sentences, including the death penalty, on the statutes for identifying as LGBT, and although it is encouraging to see that full protections and recognitions have grown in number, it is quite shocking to see how far we still have to go to ensure full equality for LGBT people.

Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee to:

1. Continue to promote membership of ILGA through its regional and branch networks;

2. Liaise with UNISON’s International Committee to promote awareness of LGBT specific atrocities in countries that fall within the international work programme, and to further encourage Unison’s Regional International Committees to include an LGBT element to their work programmes;

3. Make every effort to work with the International Committee in solidarity with other trade unions to eradicate the inequality of LGBT rights in the world – ie: The International Trades Union Congress (ITUC), the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Public Services (EPS) Public Services International (PSI), and to actively participate wherever possible to influence the international equalities agenda;

4. Continue to alert its members for opportunities to support our LGBT family and others abroad and to encourage dialogue showing our solidarity. This can be a message of support for those whose prides are being banned, or a simple message to show solidarity with those brave people who challenge oppression and equality wherever it exists.

South West Region Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Self Organised Group.