Towards a more inclusive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) self-organised group

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2018 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2018

Conference notes that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-organised group (SOG) has always sought to be fully representative of its diverse membership, in line with UNISON’s rules.

It notes that the LGBT SOG works with inclusive, umbrella definitions of bisexual and transgender. Its bi network is for all members who feel attraction to more than one gender. Its trans network is for all types of self-identifying trans people; for people with trans backgrounds and members whose gender identity does not fit into the gender binary i.e. non-binary members.

However, despite these inclusive definitions some members who the LGBT group consider to be part of the group are put off. The LGBT group hears repeatedly that when members attend its meetings, they feel welcomed and included, but before they attend they had been unsure. This is particularly the case for members who do not personally use the label LGBT about themselves, for example people who identify as queer or pansexual. It is clear that there must be many others who are put off and never get over that barrier.

As requested by 2017 LGBT conference, the National LGBT Committee has undertaken consultation on making our LGBT SOG fully inclusive. This followed a motion from the National Young Members Forum highlighting the growth in the number of people, and young people in particular, identifying their sexual orientation and gender identity in many different ways beyond a binary definition, and expressing their preference to see the LGBT group move to organise on an LGBT+ (plus) basis.

Over 75% of the consultation responses, and all the regional group responses, were in favour of the proposal to change the group’s name to LGBT+, with comments such as “It’s time for this change so that we are truly reflective of our membership and our potential members”; “this is an important next step in making our SOG more inclusive and to attract and maintain members to our union”; and “adding + is much more inclusive, and it avoids LGBT becoming a long and confusing alphabet”.

The National LGBT Committee therefore submitted a motion to 2018 LGBT Conference proposing that the group agree that its name should be changed, and that a rule amendment should be submitted to 2019 National Delegate Conference to seek approval to change the name of the LGBT group to the LGBT+ group. LGBT Conference agreed this motion.

Putting the + in the group’s name would not change its existing remit of being a SOG for all members who experience prejudice because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but would demonstrate an inclusiveness beyond that conveyed by its current name so that people who the group considers to be members are not put off from participating.

The consultation also sought views on what the LGBT group should be doing to make the group fully inclusive and the responses are now being considered by the National LGBT Committee as part of its on-going work to improve its policies and practices.

Conference welcomes the continuing work of the National LGBT Committee towards making the LGBT SOG fully inclusive and representative of its diverse membership, and instructs the National Executive Council to:-

1)work with the National LGBT Committee to issue briefings/guidance to raise awareness of the remit of the group;

2)continue its work towards making UNISON’s organisation, events, policies, systems and good practice advice inclusive of non-binary members;

3)continue to work with the National LGBT Committee, service groups and other UNISON structures as appropriate to make sure that UNISON’s bargaining agendas and equality work fully reflect issues of concern to LGBT+ members.