THE voice of working-class lesbian gay bisexual and trans people in Britain and Ireland is often missing from policy debate or worse is misrepresented as the negative stereotyping of LGBT+ workers persists.
Unite’s LGBT conference provides a democratic voice to LGBT+ workers to debate policy and demand change.
As LGBT trade union activists, we recognise that we will only achieve true equality through collective action. For every media story about how LGBT individuals feel isolated or let down by their colleagues, there are many more tremendous stories of solidarity and collective action in defence of LGBT workers. Through achieving equality for LGBT+ workers we achieve equality for all workers.
The best people to challenge discrimination at work are those people who have first hand experience of it. That is why Unite is stronger for the thousands of LGBT+ activists who have stepped up to become union reps at work.
That is why our LGBT+ activists are reaching out to union members and encouraging them to consider standing for election to become a union rep. Our activists are fed up with being portrayed as mere recipients of trade union services. We are fundamental to the union and we take our place as a strong voice within the collective.
As such, our national LGBT conference will be debating policy on tackling pay and conditions for LGBT+ workers, hate crime, international solidarity, trans-inclusive language, health and social care.
We will discuss our policy on gender identity from a position of unity with our national women’s conference and refuse to be divided through a false construct of hierarchy of oppression.
We would welcome the demedicalisation of the process for gender recognition certificates, but we note the current government has failed to publish any legislative proposals for this.
We also believe that the sex discrimination aspects of the Equality Act must be preserved and strengthened to ensure women-only space and services are protected.
We believe there is a cynical ploy by the current government to create division in our movement when none is needed and we work with all our brothers and sisters and non-binary and intersex comrades to ensure all our voices are heard with dignity and respect.
As we stand together we will be building our strategy for putting the politics back in to the pride movement.
Unite activists are the backbone of many community-based pride marches. From Eastbourne to Aberdeen via Worksop, our members are working hard to put on brilliant pride marches and we are determined that our campaigns for LGBT equality will not be eclipsed by the corporate giants who use London Pride as an advertising revenue stream. LGBT+ activists will not be used as a curiosity to make money for Starbucks.
Last year at London Pride, our members supported our cabin crew brothers and sisters in their struggle. The year before we campaigned for our LGBT+ members in steel and the year before that, we campaigned for roses too. Watch out for unite LGBT+ at pride 2018. It’s going to be amazing.
Siobhan Endean is Unite’s national officer for women and LGBT.
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