LGBT and sex worker organising and the fight against HIV

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2015 National LGBT Conference
22 July 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference recalls that 2010 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Conference adopted the resolution “Protecting sex workers and tackling prostitution” which recognized there are divergent views within the LGBT group on the issue of criminalising those who purchase sex acts and acknowledged “a need for continuing dialogue, especially where these issues affect men and trans people who are sex workers.”

Conference further recalls that the resolution “LGBT and sex worker organising and the fight against HIV” adopted by 2013 Conference noted that the Global Commission on HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and the Law’s 2012 landmark report “HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights & Health” presented compelling evidence that laws that protect human rights strengthen AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) responses, and that over 80 countries had initiated follow-up action. The resolution recognised that this and a number of other significant developments internationally had strengthened links, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, between LGBT organising, sex worker organising and the fight against HIV. It called for the national LGBT committee and National Executive Council to facilitate the dialogue that had been called for in the 2010 resolution, with a view to reviewing and advancing UNISON policy in this area.

Conference notes that there have since been further significant developments including that:

1. From early 2014, Amnesty International engaged in a global consultation on a proposal to adopt a formal policy in support of the decriminalisation of sex work;

2. Amnesty UK’s 2014 annual general meeting carried a motion in support of Amnesty International adopting a policy position supporting the decriminalisation of activities related to the buying or selling of consensual sex between adults;

3. The World Health Organisation issued guidelines in 2014 for helping to prevent the spread of HIV in the most-at-risk populations, including men who have sex with men, sex workers, and transgender people, which recommend that countries decriminalise same sex behaviours, non-conforming gender identities and sex work;

4. The Melbourne Declaration from the 2014 International AIDS Conference affirmed that “non-discrimination is fundamental to an evidence-based, rights-based and gender transformative response to HIV and effective public health programmes” and stated that “people who sell or have sold sex” are “entitled to the same rights as everyone else, including non-discrimination and confidentiality in access to HIV care and treatment services”.

Conference therefore instructs the national LGBT committee to work to facilitate the dialogue that the 2010 resolution recognized as being needed and to raise these issues with the National Executive Council, with a view to reviewing and advancing UNISON policy in this area, and to:

A. Offer solidarity to international groups working to organise sex workers where this is linked with the fight against HIV and for LGBT rights;

B. Publicise, within UNISON, the link between sex workers organising internationally and improving health and social justice for people living with HIV and LGBT people.