Christina McAnea: ‘It’s great to be loud and proud’

General secretary tells UNISON LGBT+ conference that there’s still much to do on equalities and trans equality cannot be treated as some ‘poor relation’

Christina McAnea addressing UNISON's LGBT+ conference

“It’s great to be able to be loud and proud – and I will continue to be loud and proud against homophobia and loud and very proud to be a trans ally, and I will ensure that UNISON always remains the best trade union for LGBT+ workers.”

That was the pledge from UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea this morning, when she addressed the union’s LGBT+ conference in Edinburgh, as she applauded the fact that being “loud and proud” was the event’s central theme.

“You have done so much to be loud and proud about,” she said.

“2022 – our biggest Pride season ever, from the Shetlands to London, Brighton to the Isle of Man.”

UNISON, she continued, had “always strongly advocated for trans rights.” The union’s “brilliant” trans equality campaign helps “give our activists the tools to combat the divisive political weaponising of trans issues,” which is damaging to trans people , but also to the “whole of society”.

The past year had seen over 400 members trained on how to be a good trans ally, while there’s also been a “bump in members taking part in UNISON’s trans caucus.”

But Ms McAnea was clear that such things were needed precisely because anti-trans discrimination is “not going away and we have to be ever more vigilant.”

“Today we will be launching an updated trans inclusion policy,” she told delegates: “Practical applications and outcomes”.

The general secretary stressed that fighting inequalities is at the heart of what the union does, adding: “That fighting trans inequality should somehow be seen as different is unacceptable.

Her broader messages to delegates was that the country faces the “same old, same old, failed Tory economic policies”.

It had been like the “Dallasdream season”, with the Conservative Party now trying to pretend that the chaos of the few months hadn’t really happened.

She also warned of a “bonfire of rights coming,” as the government seeks to ditch any and all legislation and regulations with a whiff of EU involvement about them – unless specifically saved by campaigning.

“United, we’ll be facing these issues,” said Ms McAnea, and before concluding, she reminded delegates working in the NHS to in the ongoing strike ballot – and to persuade their colleagues to vote too. It was vital to do so, she said, as “I want UNISON to be at the heart of our fight back against the Tories in Westminster”.