Solidarity initiatives to Support LGBT People in Turkey and Colombia

Back to all Motions

2018 National LGBT Conference
27 July 2018

Conference reaffirms that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights. However, even where legislation is in place, many LGBT workers still face considerable discrimination. Research shows transgender people experience the most severe forms of workplace discrimination including, in some countries, being excluded from the formal labour market completely.

Turkey and Colombia are two of UNISON’s international priorities because trade unionists are particularly targeted in these countries. Workers, trade unionists and LGBT people in Turkey and Colombia are being silenced by every means – intimidation, incarceration, torture and sometimes death – for protesting against abuse and discrimination and demanding trade union and human rights are respected.

Many of us take it for granted that we can organise and meet to discuss work problems, engage in political debate and challenge poor employer practices. In Turkey and in Colombia this is not the case and is all the more dangerous for LGBT trade unionists, who risk intimidation, abuse and death.

In Turkey, the far-right and ultra-nationalist groups have attempted to stop LGBT people from marching in Pride events citing public morality and values. Emergency rule has allowed President Erdogan to bypass parliament and to suspend rights and freedoms, with more than 2,200 private educational institutions, 19 labour unions, 15 universities and nearly 150 media outlets closed.

In Columbia, more than 120 land and environmental activists, community leaders and others have been killed in just one year, the vast majority of them in crimes that are not being adequately investigated by the justice system. Following the killing of 10 human rights activists in January 2018, Amnesty International called on the Colombian government to provide immediate protection to at-risk activists.

Conference notes that solidarity is the very basis of trade unionism and should not stop at national borders. The updated 2018 ILGA world map depicting LGBT rights illustrates graphically where LGBT inequality still exists.

Conference therefore welcomes UNISON’s International Development Fund (UIDF), which provides funding for trade union projects in other countries to improve their capacity to organise, defend and promote rights and represent workers effectively.

Conference instructs the National LGBT Committee, working with UNISON’s International Committee where appropriate, to:

1)Continue to promote membership of ILGA through regional and branch LGBT networks.

2)Promote awareness of LGBT specific atrocities in Columbia, encourage regions and branches to affiliate to Justice for Colombia and encourage LGBT members to become members of Justice for Colombia.

3)Promote awareness of LGBT specific atrocities in Turkey with SPOT (Solidarity with the People of Turkey) and seek to encourage messages of solidarity with LGBT groups in Turkey.

4)Encourage Regional International Committees to include an LGBT element in their work programmes.

5)Work in solidarity with other trade unions and International labour organisations to fight LGBT inequality.

6)Continue to alert LGBT members of opportunities to support global LGBT rights.

7)Seek opportunities to utilise UNISON’s International Development Fund to further LGBT equality in Turkey and Columbia.