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2016 National LGBT Conference
23 September 2016

Conference believes UNISON’s championing of public services and public service values has never been more important. Conservative government austerity cuts have left public services reeling, struggling to meet ever rising demand from services users. Service user needs become greater and more complex as they struggle with financial insecurity due to stagnant or falling wages, redundancy and welfare cuts, insecurity and fears for the future. Yet the Conservative government bulldozes ahead with its anti-public service, anti-worker, anti-trade union propaganda, presenting our hard won safety net of workers’ rights and human rights as bureaucratic red tape, to be cut away.

Conference further believes that the voice and validation given to division and scapegoating in campaigning around the European Union (EU) referendum continue to distort public debate. Referendum campaigning paid scant attention to the actual impact of EU membership, with much focus on Black communities and faith groups, and on migrant workers from outside the EU. It fed the fears of disenfranchised and disadvantaged communities. Conference condemns the racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant tone evident in much campaigning; conference expresses concern about the clear damage to community relations and individual safety and to values of solidarity and equality.

With the public service equality agenda increasingly pushed to the side, conference is further concerned that minority public services which never had popular appeal are at risk of disappearing altogether. Authoritative research carried out for UNISON in 2013 found:

1)LGBT people were facing greater financial hardship, problems finding safe accommodation and increased marginalisation and invisibility;

2. A reduction of specialised LGBT services, including housing support and homelessness services, anti-hate crime and youth services, support and help-line services, mental health and sexual health services, and gender identity services, at exactly the time these services were more needed than ever;

4. A fear that progress on challenging anti-LGBT discrimination was being reversed and that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia were on the rise again;

5. LGBT concerns and needs are treated as less important: a ‘nice thing to do’ that could be dropped in harder times;

6. A loss of valuable LGBT staff and staff with specialist knowledge that was difficult to replace.

Conference welcomes further research carried out in 2016 to update these findings. The updated findings are an important campaigning tool to show the damage wrought by the Tory’s failing austerity policies. They show the urgency of defending services that meet the needs of our diverse communities – services that save lives.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council, working with the national LGBT committee, to:

A)Publicise the research findings as widely as possible, as part of our campaign against austerity and for public services;

B. Use the findings to inform our work through Labour Link to influence Labour Party policy and priorities;

C. Use the research as a recruitment tool, highlighting the need to be in a union at a time of savage cuts to LGBT people’s jobs and worsening conditions;

D. Continue to push UNISON’s public service and equality values in the face of low pay, exploitation and division, challenging the politics of hate and urging individuals and communities to stand together for equality.