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2016 National LGBT Conference
1 January 2016

Conference affirms the benefits of attending this lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) conference, including opportunities to discuss current issues, shape the direction of UNISON’s LGBT work, learn more about UNISON and be re-energised for the coming year of activism.

Conference believes that many of our regional groups, LGBT branch self-organised groups (SOG) and the national LGBT committee should be congratulated on their hard work over many years to encourage and increase participation of LGBT members at conference.

This conference notes that LGBT members conference offers unique learning, educational, political, cultural, and social opportunities that can contribute to young LGBT members’ personal development and as UNISON activists.

This conference also notes that it has benefited from a good level of delegate attendance by young lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members over recent years, and the important role the scheme of branch representation has played in achieving this. The scheme of branch representation requires branch delegations of:

1. More than one delegate to base the delegation on the gender make-up of the branch;

2. More than three delegates to include a low paid woman;

3. More than four delegates to include a young member.

It also requires branches to seek to include Black, disabled, part-time and manual LGBT members in delegations.

However, some areas of under-representation persist, with women’s attendance remaining below 50% and low representation of manual, low paid and part-time workers. More work clearly needs to be done to ensure that these members are able to attend conference and fully participate.

Conference notes that examples of fair representation in the scheme of branch representation do not exclude other measures of our group’s diversity. Increasing numbers of members are coming out as non-binary. We need to consider how our LGBT organisation and conference encourage their participation, identifying and removing any barriers.

Conference also welcomes the participation of those who are not under-represented, noting that fair representation rules mean some may attend conference as visitors rather than delegates. Conference welcomes visitors’ active participation in all parts of conference except the debate of motions.

This conference further notes concern within the young members organisation that, despite increased education and information about the positive role of self-organised groups in UNISON, the number of young LGBT women actively involved in young members organisation seems disproportionately small.

This conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:

A. Reiterate the importance of all parts of our LGBT group committing to the principles and practice of fair representation in all our work;

B. Issue a statement to all branch LGBT groups in advance of the Annual General Meeting ‘season’ that:

I. States that all branches should make efforts to send a young member and low paid members to LGBT members’ conference;

II. Encourages them to promote LGBT self-organisation and conference to all young members and low paid workers in their branch;

III. Encourages more experienced members to relinquish delegate positions if that makes it possible for a young member to attend;

IV. Calls for conference visitor places to be offered to young members and low paid members as well;

C. Ask all regional LGBT groups to engage with regional young members’ groups on increasing young member participation ‘ and young LGBT women in particular, in our Self-Organised Group and in young members’ activity;

D. Increase the coverage of young LGBT members and issues in ‘Out In UNISON’;

E. Use social media to promote this work, and seek promotion of it through UNISON communications channels;

F. Liaise with the National Young Members Forum about reaching out to young LGBT members through their networks;

G. Investigate the barriers some members face to attending conference and produce guidance on potential solutions;

H. Review how conference can be more inclusive of non-binary members, identifying and removing any barriers in structure, language, policy or practice to their participation;

I. Continue to encourage all LGBT members to participate in our group and conference, publicising the value of attending conference as a visitor;

J. Seek ways of communicating with members from hard to reach and underrepresented groups;

K. Monitor and report on the impact of this work.