LGBT+ inclusive policies in Local Government

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2021 Virtual Special Local Government Service Group Conference
8 April 2021

Conference acknowledges that even before Covid-19, equality was increasingly being seen as a luxury in many local government workplaces, with many employers barely abiding by the law. We must live up to our proud history and negotiate for LGBT+ equality to be included in all local government policies, practices and agreements.

Conference recognises that local government service group rules, language and practices that are inclusive of our LGBT+ members are vital to achieving our equality objectives. Likewise, in our negotiations, it is vital that we demand employers consider the impact of policies and practices on LGBT+ workers.

Conference welcomes the new guidance �Improving Trans Equality in Local Government Workplaces� circulated to branches in January, and the success of some local government branches in using the UNISON trans equality guide and model policy to negotiate agreements. It notes that trans staff experience disproportionate levels of harassment and discrimination. A 2017 TUC report showed that 48% of trans workers had experienced bullying and harassment, compared to a third of non-trans workers.

Conference also notes there is a still a significant lack of knowledge and information about trans equality among many local government employer HR departments and leads. While there has been a welcome increase in local government branches being consulted on draft trans equality policies, many of these include mistakes in law, outdated language, ignore non-binary identities and are far from best practice.

In addition, Conference notes with concern that:

1)A number of groups that have campaigned against the proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act and are seeking to roll back the existing rights of trans people have encouraged their supporters to lobby local authorities to replace �gender� in their equality policies with �sex� and claim that a number have agreed to do so.

2)According to a 2019 TUC report, nearly seven in ten LGBT+ people reported being sexually harassed at work, yet two thirds didn�t report it to their employer. One in four of those who didn�t report it said it was because they were afraid of being �outed� at work.

Conference recognises that the many barriers to challenging discriminatory behaviour often stem from a lack of information, education, support and firm policies in workplaces, and that it is essential that there are workplace allies for all LGBT+ identities. It welcomes the development of a new UNISON LGBT+ Allies training programme, aimed at giving non-LGBT+ members the opportunity to explore what it means to be an ally and to identify ways of creating an inclusive working environment for everyone.

Conference calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive, in liaison with the National LGBT+ Committee, to keep LGBT+ equality centre stage in bargaining and:

a)Continue to encourage the negotiation of inclusive language in local government agreements and policies, and of inclusive practices and procedures, across our local government workplaces;

b)Urge all branches to use the UNISON trans equality guide and model policy, along with the updated LGBT+ bargaining factsheets and guide to non-binary inclusion, to review employer policies and agreements with employers with a view to achieving best practice;

c)Urge branches where employers have no trans equality policy to seek to negotiate the adoption of UNISON�s model policy;

d)Ask the sector committees to raise trans equality with employers and employer bodies and seek reviews of relevant equality guidance, in line with UNISON best practice;

e)Urge branches with employers outside NJC or other national arrangements to check any trans equality policies against the model policy and negotiate for necessary improvements;

f)Continue to gather and publicise good practice examples from branches organising in the service group of inclusive employer policies and practices;

g)Circulate advice to branches on using the Public Sector Equality Duty;

h)Promote the guide to being to be a good trans ally, and the new LGBT+ ally training programme, across the local government service group.