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2019 National LGBT+ Conference
19 September 2019

Conference welcomes the fact that ILGA-Europe have organised a “Gathering for D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists in Europe and Central Asia” which takes place 21 – 24 November 2019 in Brussels and that UNISON will be part of that gathering.

The gathering provides the opportunity for D/deaf, disabled lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activists and LGBTI and disability rights activists who are active at grassroots, regional, national or international levels to meet, share experiences of activism, understand the contexts of what participants are working on, including key issues and strategies used, exchange and pull together tools and practices to support and strengthen D/deaf and disabled LGBTI communities and movements, map existing gaps, needs and resources with regard to movement building and participate in a joint thinking process regarding potential avenues for movement building at a regional level.

Whilst conference applauds this step forward, it is disappointing that the gathering was limited to a small number of participants. However, it is noted that there is the potential for a future network of D/deaf and disabled LGBTI activists to be set up.

Conference is aware that ILGA-Europe works with the European Disability Forum (EDF). The EDF is “an umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities that defends the interests of over 80 million Europeans with disabilities”. The EDF is not a disabled people’s organisation but is run by “persons with disabilities and their families” in particular the Executive Board.

Conference believes that UNISON models best practice when it comes to LGBT+ disability campaigning, bargaining and negotiating, organising and activism within the workplace and society within LGBT+ self organisation and disability self organisation.

Conference notes that there is not a widespread understanding of the social model of disability and related language and believes that awareness should be raised of the importance of embedding the social model of disability.

Conference therefore calls on the national LGBT+ committee and where relevant working with the national disabled members’ committee to:

1)Continue discussions with ILGA-Europe with a view to supporting their continued work in respect of setting up a network for D/deaf and Disabled LGBTI activists;

2)Promote any such network amongst UNISON disabled LGBT+ members;

3)Consider proposing to hold a workshop on the social model of disability in a trade union context at the next ILGA-Europe conference should there be a delegation;

4)Raise awareness of the social model of disability and language at any opportunity.