Towards a more inclusive disabled members LGBT+ caucus

Back to all Motions

2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
11 July 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that at National Delegate Conference 2019 delegates unanimously agreed to change UNISON’s rule book so that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self organised group will now be called the LGBT+ self organised group.

Conference notes that this has implications for our disabled members self organised group because we have an LGBT caucus of disabled members as part of our group. The caucus meets three times a year and is a way of acknowledging the intersectionality of our members and of ensuring LGBT people, who are under-represented in society, have a voice within our disabled members’ structures.

Conference acknowledges that our caucuses have been a key training ground for disabled members from under-represented groups, including LGBT disabled members, and that the UNISON approach to caucuses incorporates an understanding of intersectionality and of our rich and multiple identities as Black, women, Deaf and LGBT disabled people.

Conference is aware that UNISON works with inclusive, umbrella definitions of bisexual and transgender. Meetings that include bi members are for all members who feel attraction to more than one gender. Meetings that include trans members are 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 that the disabled LGBT caucus consider to be part of the caucus are put off. The LGBT caucus 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. Conference therefore welcomes UNISON’s decision to use the term “LGBT+” to ensure we properly reflect our remit.

Conference notes that it was initially young members who suggested UNISON move to using the term LGBT+, with many identifying their sexual orientation and gender identity in different ways beyond a binary definition. The National LGBT Committee undertook consultation on making the LGBT SOG fully inclusive, with over 75% of the consultation responses, and all regional group responses, 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”.

Conference welcomes the decision of National Delegate Conference to change the name of the LGBT self organised group to LGBT+ and instructs the National Disabled Committee to:

1)Continue its work towards making the National Disabled Members SOG fully inclusive and representative of its diverse membership

2)Work with the National LGBT+ Committee to raise awareness of the remit of our caucus in the light of new national rules

3)Continue to work towards making our SOG’s organising, events, policies, systems, language and good practice advice inclusive of non-binary disabled members

4)Continue to work with service groups and other UNISON structures as appropriate to make sure that UNISON’s disability equality work fully reflects issues of concern to disabled LGBT+ members.

5) Continue to robustly support our caucus structures as the best way of ensuring the voices of our under-represented members are heard.