Black members and the +

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2019 National Black Members' Conference
14 September 2018

Conference notes that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-organised group (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 and for members whose gender identity does not fit into the gender binary i.e. non-binary members.

However, despite these inclusive definitions, some Black members, who the LGBT group consider to be part of the group, are put off. The LGBT group hears repeatedly that when Black members attend its meetings, they feel welcome and included, but before they attended they had been unsure.

This is particularly the case for Black members who do not personally use the label LGBT about themselves, for example people who identify as queer, and people who self-define, for example, as Hijra, Dalit, or Kothi. This highlights the importance of adding plus to LGBT so that more Black members can feel included.

Conference notes that the National LGBT Committee (NLGBTC) has undertaken consultation during 2018 on making the LGBT SOG fully inclusive. This followed a motion from the National Young Members Forum (NYMF) to 2017 LGBT conference 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.

The overwhelming majority of responses were in favour of the proposal to change the group’s name to LGBT+, and the NLGBTC has therefore submitted a motion to 2018 national LGBT conference proposing changing the name. UNISON’S Black LGBT caucus are also fully supportive of the proposed name change. Black members who identify as non-binary or other would feel included for the first time if the name change becomes a reality.

The consultation also sought views on what the LGBT group should be doing to make the group more inclusive. The National LGBT committee will consider these responses as part of its ongoing work to improve its polices and practices.

Putting the + in the group’s name would not change its existing remit of being a SOG for members who experience prejudice or discrimination because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, but would demonstrate an inclusiveness beyond that conveyed by the current name. This would increase the participation of those Black members who previously felt excluded and isolated with no sense of belonging. Every Black member should be able to have a safe space where they can be themselves and feel a part of a union that recognises their identity and promotes their inclusion.

Conference therefore calls on the National Black Members Committee to:

1)Work with the National LGBT Committee to have an article in Black Action, on what the name change would mean;

2)Encourage regional and branch Black Members Groups to campaign for support for any rule change proposal from National LGBT Conference to National Delegate Conference regarding changing the name of the group to LGBT+;

3)Circulate the guidance/briefings being produced on what the name change would mean.