Organising LGBT members in community

Back to all Motions

2017 Community Service Group Conference
10 November 2016

Conference notes that while the community sector is expanding rapidly, it is under unprecedented pressure, with workers expected to meet ever growing and more complex needs with decreasing resources.

This is well-illustrated by the August 2016 report by the Consortium of LGBT voluntary and community organisations. 86% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community organisations reported an increasing demand for their services, while a fifth said that unless their income opportunities improved, they would not be operating in 12 months time.

Conference is concerned about the impact this has on the well being of workers in the community sector. LGBT members can face particular isolation, being a small minority in most workplaces, and subject to continuing prejudice and discrimination. As a result, the support and solidarity of UNISON membership and LGBT self organisation has never been more important.

UNISON’s first annual equality survey, conducted in summer 2016, found that a quarter of the 4500 members responding had witnessed or experienced unfair discrimination in their workplace and a third of members had experienced a mental health issue triggered by work and a fifth had taken time off because of work related stress.

For LGBT members, the proportion experiencing or witnessing discrimination rose to just under a third. Nearly half had experienced a mental health issue triggered by work and 29% had to take time off for work-related stress. For trans members, a shocking two thirds had experienced or witnessed discrimination.

Conference welcomes the finding in the survey that more than a quarter of members said they are more likely to get involved with UNISON than a year ago. The figure for LGBT members was 40% and for trans members only, a very impressive 50%.

Conference calls on the community service group executive to take up this challenge and work with branches in the community sector and with the LGBT group to take active steps to organise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members. This can include:

1. Publicising and promoting UNISON guidance on LGB and trans workers equality;

2. Urging branches with community members to:

a)publicise regional LGBT group meetings, encouraging and supporting members to attend;

b)seek to fill the LGBT branch officer post, encouraging those interested in the post or in the post to attend the national branch LGBT officer training;

c)encourage, promote and resource branch LGBT self organisation;

d)working with regional LGBT groups, support local prides, LGBT history month activities and other LGBT focussed events;

3. Publicising the new LGBT section of UNISON’s organising space as a resource for networking and sharing good practice;

4. Encouraging community members to update their confidential UNISON membership details with sexual orientation and gender identity information.