Delegates discuss international concerns

Conference hears of treatment of the Palestinian people, plus the plight of LGBT workers in Colombia, Turkey and Jamaica

In one of a series of debates on international issues at UNISON’s LGBT conference in Harrogate, Bernie McGuire from the West Midlands highlighted the issue of Palestine and how support for the actions of the Israeli state is coming from “reactionary” regimes.

For the national committee, Jackie Lewis pointed out that, on the 14 May, as Israel and the US celebrated the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, unarmed protestors against the illegal, 11-year blockade of Gaza were being shot at and killed.

She warned against pinkwashing – attempts by the Israeli state to portray itself as a liberal society and deflect from criticism of how it treats the Palestinian people.

James Anthony from University Hospitals Birmingham Branch described the treatment of Palestinian people as “absolutely abhorrent”. As a union, he said, “we want to see and peaceful and free Israel as well as a peaceful and free Palestine”.

Mr Anthony stressed that there is “no place for anti-Semitism in the union – and no place for using our support for the Palestinian people as a cover for anti-Semitism,” noting that opposition to the behaviour of the state of Israel cannot be seen as ‘anti-Semitism’.

Conference backed a call for a boycott of Eurovision 2019 in Israel as part of efforts against pink washing.

Citing the importance to UNISON of international solidarity, Anu Prashar for the national committee raised the particular problems faced by LGBT workers in in Turkey and Colombia.

Bev Miller, speaking about the plight of LGBT people in Jamaica, where they are often murdered by people with no fear of being prosecuted for such crimes.