‘Living legend’ Jackie Lewis given LGBT+ lifetime achievement award

LGBT+ conference rises to celebrate a lifetime of campaigning

Jackie Lewis at the rostrum, accepting her lifetime achievement award at UNISON's LGBT+ 2022 conference

In a busy afternoon at UNISON’s LGBT+ conference in Edinburgh today, delegates took time to celebrate one of the union’s own LGBT+ stars – the redoubtable Jackie Lewis from Lambeth.

Introducing a lifetime achievement award, Eileen Best from the national LGBT+ committee said that Jackie was a stickler for detail, telling of an occasion at one conference where she had spent three hours discussing the importance of a single punctuation mark in a motion.

Initially with Nalgo, before it joined with Cohse and Nupe to become UNISON, Jackie was closely involved in the formation of a lesbian and gay group in the union, and since then, has remained utterly committed to the struggle for LGBT+ rights both in – and beyond – the union.

She has also campaigned for the rights of Palestinian people facing persecution by the Israeli state, including against efforts at ‘pinkwashing’ by Israel.

But Jackie is known beyond UNISON.

In her address to conference earlier in the afternoon, Dr Julia Ehrt of ILGA World had already referred to Jackie as “a living legend”, noting that, when she had first met her, some years earlier, she had been incredulous that “Jackie has had coffee with me!”

On accepting her award, a stunned Jackie promised to mete out revenge on those who had planned the surprise.