We Need You – Branch LGBT Officers

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2014 National LGBT Conference
31 July 2014

Conference notes that equality is at the heart of UNISON. We have a long history of challenging discrimination and winning equality in the workplace and beyond. Whilst we have made great strides towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality and recognition of our rights, there are still areas where members experience discrimination, bullying and abuse. There is still work to be done to protect our rights at work and in society.

Conference applauds the continued hard work of our regional LGBT groups and many of our branches around challenging inequality in all its guises. We recognise that our members don’t only face homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, but also racism, disablism and sexism. We recognise that there is no hierarchy of oppression and we must all work together.

Conference notes that branches are the basis of UNISON’s organisational structure. UNISON rules provide for every branch to have an LGBT self-organised group (SOG), with representation on the branch committee. UNISON guidance, Organising for Equality, recommends that where branches do not have an LGBT SOG, they consider creating the post of branch LGBT officer, to act as a point of contact. Many branches have LGBT officers; far fewer have active LGBT SOGs.

Whilst all branch officers share responsibility for tackling prejudice and discrimination and promoting equality, branch LGBT officers, together with branch LGBT SOGs, have a crucial role to play in this task. The role involves identifying LGBT bargaining issues, supporting LGBT members and helping recruit and organise under-represented groups, including working to establish a branch LGBT group where needed. Branch LGBT officers, who must themselves be LGBT, work with their branch equality co-ordinators and any self-organised group reps to spot opportunities to improve equality and prevent discrimination.

Conference welcomes the branch LGBT officer training, running since 2013, nationally and regionally, and the updated national LGBT committee resources for branches.

Conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:

1. Promote the visibility of branch LGBT officers and urge LGBT members to consider training for and taking up the role;

2. Support regional LGBT groups in seeking regionally-based branch LGBT officer training, jointly with other regions if necessary;

3. Encourage and support the setting up of branch LGBT groups;

4. Promote the support and resources available for branch LGBT officers and groups – including Organising for Equality, Out in UNISON and the LGBT e-bulletin, LGBT bargaining factsheets, recruitment materials and advice on the role of branch LGBT officers – and explore new ways of supporting them.