LGBT workers’ rights – home and away

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Conference
2014 National LGBT Conference
Date
29 July 2014
Decision

Conference recognises that, whilst there is still work to be done in improving rights and conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United Kingdom, these are still significantly better than those endured by many abroad. Homosexuality is still illegal and punishable in varying degrees in dozens of countries, one of which is Qatar.

Earlier this year, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) entered into a partnership with the Qatari Government to provide training for Qatari police cadets. Whilst the cadets would have come to MMU to learn English, MMU Sociology staff would have been based in Qatar.

Concerns were raised by both UNISON and University and College Union (UCU), particularly as the staff equality fora had not been consulted prior to the deal being struck, nor had any equality impact assessment been done on the implications of LGBT staff being required to work in a country where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment. Furthermore, there was the fact that the cadets, once trained, would be enacting Qatar’s homophobic laws.

A campaign arose as a result, and the outcome of that campaign was that MMU management agreed to review the procedures in place so that any future deal of this nature will be subject to far greater scrutiny, and a more robust assessment of the impact on equalities.

However, Conference is concerned that many other workplaces will not even have begun to take such issues into consideration, and that LGBT workers are being sent to work in countries where to be LGBT is to be at serious risk of imprisonment, violence or death. Conference also notes that the Trades Union Congress (TUC)’s 2013 Guide to LGBT Equality at Work only contains brief guidance on this issue.

Conference therefore calls on the national LGBT committee to:

1) Work with the TUC LGBT Committee to produce full, detailed guidance for employers and staff on postings abroad;

2) Work with the TUC LGBT Committee to produce guidance for branches on negotiating with management over deals that may have equalities implications in terms of LGBT staff being posted abroad, including requirements for robust equalities impact assessments and consultation with staff equalities groups.