LGBT conference stress that we’re ‘stronger in UNISON’

Delegates look back at a tumultuous year – and forward to building the community of the union

“Yn gryfach gyda’n gilydd yn UNSAIN” ­– we are “stronger together in UNISON,” and “when we march together, we’re unstoppable”.

That was the message as UNISON’s LGBT conference opened on a bright but chilly November morning in Llandudno, as delegates looked back over a 12-month period that has seen the world turned upside changed.

As speaker after speaker made clear, given global events, standing together is more important than ever.

Speaking to a motion calling for zero tolerance of biphobia, Natalie Roberts called for work to encourage greater involvement of bisexual members within the union.

Callum from Scotland appealed to delegates to remember that such work could help build our communities as a whole – and not just within work, while another delegate reiterated that “there’s nothing to be scared of” of bisexual people “and we’re all stronger together”.

On coming together and building inclusivity, Jackie Lewis for the national LGBT committee introduced a motion on taking forward UNISON’s work on intersex equality.

Understanding of intersex conditions – where people are born with variations of sex characteristics – has increased greatly in recent years, and while delegates applauded the work that UNISON has already done on the issue, after years of ‘bullying, medicalisation and stigma’, there is still much more to be done to build greater inclusivity and equality.

For the South East region, Lucy Power stressed the importance of best practice for people who are transitioning in the workplace.

“To pass – not to be visible,” was how she described the desire of many trans people, who find that questions and inapproporiate comments and attitudes in the workplace can make the life-changing experience of transitioning even more challenging.

Dave Marchant praised the work done by UNISON to help support trans members.

But stressing again the need for togetherness, he said that supporting trans members could not just be the responsibility of LGBT members, but was an issue for all UNISON members.

Conference also welcomed the union’s new private contractors forum and stressed the need to continue organising in private companies, and of defending and fighting for rights for LGBT people.