Tackling biphobia in WET workplaces

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2013 Water, Environment & Transport Service Group
25 February 2013

Conference welcomes the first ever UK-wide report on bisexuality, which was published by the Open University last year. Conference notes that even casual biphobia, too often pervasive and unchallenged, can make our workplaces hostile environments, where bisexual people are unable to work to their potential. The Open University report showed that:

a)Bisexual people’s experiences differ in important ways from those of heterosexual people, and from those of lesbian and gay people.

b)Biphobia is distinct from homophobia.

c)Bisexual people often face discrimination and prejudice from within heterosexual, and lesbian and gay, communities.

d)Bisexual populations have significantly higher levels of distress and mental health difficulties than equivalent heterosexual or lesbian/gay populations.

Recommendations of the report include:

i)Inform yourself about bisexuality and avoid stereotypes about bisexual people.

ii)Include bisexuality within all policy and explicitly within the diversity implications section of every document and policy.

iii)Don’t assume one unified bisexual experience. The experiences and needs of bisexual people are also affected by their race, culture, gender, relationship status, age, disability, religion, social class, geographical location, etc.

iv)Separate biphobia out from homophobia, recognising that there are specific issues facing bisexual people such as lack of acknowledgement of their existence, stereotypes of greediness or promiscuity, and pressure to be either gay or straight.

v)Recognise the role that biphobia and bisexual invisibility play in creating negative outcomes for bisexual people.

Conference notes the relevance of these findings and recommendations for UNISON and our equality bargaining in water, Environment Agency and transport (WET) workplaces.

Conference calls on the WET service group executive, working with the business and environment equal opportunities working party and the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee, to urge all WET branches to:

1)take up the recommendations of the report where appropriate;

2)check policies and practice for specific recognition of the need to tackle bisexual discrimination and promote bisexual equality

3)renegotiate policies as necessary and call for them to be widely publicised and promoted in our workplaces.