I attended the Trade Union Congress annual LGBT+ Conference for the first time, representing Napo as a delegate along with national official Ranjit Singh.
Several hundred delegates represented over thirty trade unions at this event, a huge range of workers coming together to discuss how to advance the causes of LGBT+ workers.
The particular issues this two-day conference focused on were: the recent rapid increase in hate crimes against LGBT+ people in the UK, the ongoing protests against the ‘No Outsiders’ programme at Parkfield School in Birmingham and now at more schools across the country, and the urgent need to support trans and non-binary people in the trade union movement and in wider society.
The rapid rise in hate crime against LGBT+ people has alarmed many trade unions, leading to four emergency motions to fight hate crime against us. These motions formed a composite motion that was voted for unanimously and will now go to the TUC Congress in September.
The discussion around this composite motion featured many heart-wrenching personal stories from LGBT+ delegates who have suffered threats, abuse, and even life-threatening violence themselves. You could not come away from this discussion thinking that the country is a safe place to be gay or bisexual or transgender. But what I did come away from that discussion with was the absolute determined solidarity of the trade union movement to combat hatred. Right wing parties and groups will always seek to divide workers and push an agenda of hate; trade unionists know that we must promote unity instead and show that we are far stronger together.
Central to fighting hatred against our community is education, and that is why inclusive relationship and sex education [RSE] has been such a priority for trade unions, and why the protests against ‘No Outsiders’ are so alarming. The panel discussion was well-informed and made clear the importance of education in fighting hatred long term.
Several motions and a great deal of discussion around the conference pushed for greater recognition of trans and non-binary identities, with comparison made to the great steps unions made towards inclusion of gays and lesbians following the campaign of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.
It was clear from this conference that the vast majority of our movement supports the demands of trans and non-binary people. With the determined support shown at this conference, we can expect the trade union movement to make even more progress in encouraging trans and non-binary workers to participate.
The 2019 LGBT+ Conference was inspiring for me as a young LGBT+ person new to the trade union movement. Over the next year I look forward to seeing this movement put pressure on the government and on employers to better the lives of LGBT+ people in the UK and internationally.
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