26-27 June 2014, Congress House
Report by Adam Umney, Delegate TUC Midlands Region
Paul Nowak, Assistant General Secretary, TUC
Spoke of growing up and his recollections of his Uncle who came out as gay and his Uncles experience, activism and relationship within the family plus support of his wife.
Spoke of his own school days and how name calling was exclusively sexually orientated.
Also spoke of achievements over the years and also issues yet unresolved and requiring work, especially workplace bullying, media harassment (Lucy Meadows) and hate crimes.
Addressed cuts affecting LGBT public services and also how Section 28 never really went away from schools where homophobia is still prevalent.
Reported ET Tribunal Fees have resulted in a reduction of Sexual Orientation related cases by 76% and highly unlikely that this was a result of a real reduction of discrimination and harassment.
Discussed the international situation in Russia and the need to extend support to LGBT community in Russia and in other parts of the world where our communities are oppressed.
Gloria Del Piero MP, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Spoke about the achievement of same sex marriage – yes Cameron deserves credit of sticking by it but could not have achieved it without support of Labour MPs.
Gloria also recalled all the Equality Legislation achieved under Labour relating to LGBT communities and also the end of the ban of LGB people serving in the military (actually, that was the European Court of Human Rights which Labour tokenly opposed).
No school should teach prejudice and homophobia, but should teach about diversity including same sex relationships.
Tackling homophobia by sports organisations.
Labour would appoint and International Envoy for LGBT Human Rights
When same sex couples can walk down the street holding hands doesn't turn heads, we will be approaching equality.
Also spoke of other issues such as abolishing the bedroom tax, extending childcare.
- addressed the effect of cuts in her constituency and the importance of pushing NHS up the agenda and protecting from corporate interests.
- Taken 40+ years and still not achieved equal pay – Labour needs to deliver
- Labour needs to publicise working class roots of some MPs and increase their number in Parliament
- Yorkshire delegate asked if cuts to public services would be reversed – question not answered.
- Agreed that accountability of schools should not be from Whitehall but rather returned to locality (local authority?)
Maria Exall, Chair of TUC LGBT
TUC LGBT Committee has focused on increasing equal rights across the UK – want more choices with equal marriage same sex couples but also need to open civil partnerships to heterosexuals.
Same sex survivor pensions being reviewed and TUC involved in consultations to drive forward.
Long way to go acknowledging and progressing rights for Trans community.
Spoke of faith based/independent schools and prevalence of trans and homophobia.
Progress not inevitable as media focussed on battle between conservatives and UKIP, with progressive issues pushed out.
Freedom2 pride theme, about engaging with excluded LGBT population and the issues they face. May have achieved near legislative parity, yet surveys by unions and other organisations have recently shown that homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination is rife. Young people are affected in families, communities and more likely to be homeless and experience mental health problems. There is also the danger of conversion therapies for the vulnerable in our communities.
Question on Committee report re austerity cuts and lgbt communities.
Difficulties in challenging and mobilising our communities due to a number of reasons including government perceived as lgbt friendly and our lgbt media often owned by commercial interests.
Jide Macauley, Justice for Gay Africans
History of persecution in the African continent. Linked to the penal colonies established in the past and also religious radicalism.
Anti homosexual law this year in Nigeria came from radical church action in 2009, of which the current national leader is a member.
Earlier this year gay people were attacked by mobs, marched naked through the streets and even burnt alive. Jide's house was vandalised to destruction.
Nigerian police very corrupt and work together to penalise LGBT people.
UK Border control know what Nigerian authorities are like but they often require evidence that can be described as pornographic to justify a claim for asylum.
Jide's group also now includes Moslems.
Organising across Africa – not using social media as that would jeopardise safety – but a large delegation met in Kenya this year of 150 with high levels of security and secrecy.
Jide wants to effectively organise and document the abuses by government and their organisations against LGBT communities in society, home and workplaces.
Midlands Delegate – what can we do to support and assist:
- Find out more about what is happening in the continent. Can take action and petition on African's behalf but check with people on the ground. Invite delegates to committees.
- Lesbian also face very patriarchal attitudes. Southern region of Africa is the best organised.
ILGA is a great organisation bringing activists together, collecting information about abuses and persecution and most likely to be the first to provide updates. www.ilga.org
Simone Pound, Professional Football Association
Spoke about the need for change and players coming out in professional football. About organising a support network to support players coming out so no one goes through the ordeal that Justin Fashanu experienced.
TUC Football Alliance came together to address the challenges LGB footballers face.
CWU speaker found that FA are very hesitant and cautious when talking about LGBT phobia, but football supporters are quite willing to engage and are more positive.
There will be a toolkit to deal with LGBT phobia in football to be available from the TUC Football Alliance at the start of the season from the TUC, PFA and CWU websites.
Digital Campaigning Workshop
Speakers from UNISON and 38Degrees
Robin Priestly (38 Degrees) has been going for 5 years, successes include saving Radio 6, NHS campaigns among many.
'Campaigns by You' is a tool-kit for activists to use to start their own campaign as 38 degrees staff cannot cover all campaigns.
What makes a good petition?
- Identifying a central issue;
- Identify a key person who can initiate the change desired so they can be petitioned;
- Say what outcome you want;
- Keep the process simple – don't require to many clicks or redirections to various pages;
- Motivate the reader – inspire, embed links to further expert info in the text to lend authority.
Funding – only through donations – no organisations regularly fund so no ties. Not for profit organisation.
38 Degrees are a campaign organisation and take data protection seriously and therefore will not sell emails of petition signers on to commercial or other companies.
UNISON – Campaigning and organising with social media (Alison Charlton, Communications Officer, email@example.com)
Have a campaign goal and develop a strategy to get to the outcome.
- Plan social media with on the ground activity
- Prepare you activists and branches
- Prepare your supporters, bloggers, press
- Support with materials, ideas, plans
- Publicise event/actions ahead of time
- Conversations to keep up momentum
- Feedback on success and thank people
- A human interest story
- Compelling quotes
- Photo – great photo says a thousand words
- A timely angle
- Narrative context
- A connection with your audience's interests
- An action
“Don't say anything online that you wouldn't be happy to see on a billboard with your face on”
Avoiding the P45 tweet
- Check your employers policy on social media, IT use and union rule book
- Use separate accounts for personal/union workplaces
- Restrict union accounts to union activity
- Use to organise, not comment. Always an action.
- Be professional. Friendly, not personal.
- Know the law and your rights.
These laws apply to you online
- Contempt of Court
- Intellectual property/copyright
- Data protection
- Bullying, threatening behaviour, hate crime
- Industrial action and election rules
But you also have rights
- Unfair dismissal
- Disciplinary Procedures
- Freedom of information
- Right to expression
Disclaimers mean nothing
“These view are mine and don't represent those of my employer” is not a get out of jail free card.
Your employer can still hold you to account for breaching code of conduct.
David Sharkey, Unite LE Region, SERTUC LGBT, Left Front Art.
What it is to be young & LGBT – quite a range between teenage to 32.
Young LGBT experience higher rates of mental health & self harm.
Important that LGBT History is taught at schools and universities to educate our own communities as well as wider society so that we can encourage our young people to get involved.
A lot of young people are turned off by politics though they may have political opinions but don't really recognise this. We need to assist people to understand that having an opinion is political, what they wear and how they live their lives is political.
Not enough solidarity – too much in-fighting within activist groups – also need to include heterosexuals and others in our activism.
Young LGBT workers tend to gravitate towards stereotypical LGBT friendly issues like retail and hospitality, yet they tend to have the worst terms and conditions such as zero hours contracts.
Young LGBT are more likely to be ask risk of homelessness.
Need to become more active and motivated as a community to prevent erosion of rights as we see in other countries around the world.
Mohammed Taj, President TUC & Unite EC
First Muslim & Asian President of the TUC.
Equality at the heart of the trade union movement and is proud that we have all fought for equality over the last 30 years, given that in the 80's and 90's there was resistance in the movement.
More unions are taking seriously and getting involved in supporting the LGBT community at home and internationally. Spoke of iTUC in Berlin this year where LGBT issues were discussed.
Acknowledged that there is still a long way to go for LGBT issues and concerns to be mainstreamed within the union and equality movements.
LGBT movement has a very strong voice in Maria Exall on the TUC General Council.
Government plays lip service to equality, keeping the label whilst removing the substance.
Whilst he is a Muslim, he values and raises the concerns of LGBT and women in meetings & events up and down the country including in Christian and Muslim events. Trade union movement needs to stand up with LGBT and women members, support and represent their interests in the face of injustices and oppression.
Important that we all stand up together and be counted. Looks forward to LGBT members becoming President of the TUC.