Cross-branch working and pensions concern conference

Delegates also hear emotional debates on ‘conversion therapy’ and the lack of marriage equality in Northern Ireland

It was a busy morning in Harrogate today, as LGBT conference delegates debated a wide range of topics.

For the national LGBT committee, Jaden Biggs explained the need to increase cross-branch working in increasingly diverse workplace environments.

As an advance nurse practitioner who works closely with social workers, the ambulance service and others in their efforts to try to avoid hospital admissions, Jaden explained how working across branches is a coherent approach in such situations.

A motion on ‘conversion therapy’, where (often) religious fundamentalists “prey on the vulnerable,” to ‘coach’  and pray them out of their out of their sexual orientation, saw one delegate speak movingly of the long-term problems caused by conversion therapy, having experienced it themselves in their teens, after being “referred through my parents’ church”.

For the national committee, Hannah Stevenson highlighted the need for ethical procurement in terms of companies trying to sell goods related to LGBT Pride, where the countries in which such goods are produced have poor records on LGBT and other human rights issues.

A motion on equal marriage – or the lack of it – in Northern Ireland, saw an another emotional debate.

“I’m so ashamed of how behind the times” Northern Ireland is, said one delegate. “A lot of it is to do with religion – I’m an atheist because of it,” they continued.

One delegate from West Midlands, addressing a motion on equal pensions, explained how they and their partner decided recently to undergo a civil partnership in order to safeguard their pensions, despite being a couple for over three decades.

On that subject, Katrina Gilman highlighted the need for “primary legislation” to create full pension equality. “Equality is – and must – be for all”.