This year’s UNISON LGBT+ Conference may have now been and gone, but it’s just the start of some important conversations ahead of next year, with 2024 designated as UNISON’s ‘Year of LGBT+ workers’.
So what did this year’s conference cover, and what can we learn as we prepare for the ‘Year of LGBT+ workers’?
Here are some thoughts from Chris, LGBT+ officer for UNISON Rotherham branch, who attended the conference…
“It was a really interesting weekend in Liverpool, which included lots of thought-provoking conversations. A speech from UNISON’s head of local government, Mike Short, highlighted how there is still a lot of work to be done to tackle discrimination of LGBT+ people in the workplace, but it also gave me confidence our branch is already doing a very good job of keeping members updated with training opportunities around these kinds of issues.
An interesting point raised was around the lack of Black LGBT+ participants at conference, which highlighted that it had taken place on Diwali – the most celebrated day for many people from Indian and Hindu communities. The discussion resulted in making sure future LGBT+ conferences are carefully planned to consider all religious and cultural festivals, and it’s something branches need to consider when planning events in future, too.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea attended as a guest speaker, highlighting how the union is and always will be a safe space for members of the LGBT+ community. It’s vital branches continue to make this message clear. It was mentioned that over 2,000 members have completed the ‘How to be a good Trans Ally’ training, but only 25 percent of branches have an LGBT+ officer. It’s really important these figures increase during the ‘Year of LGBT+ workers’.
Other discussion points were around LGBT+ organising, and changing attitudes towards HIV. The main points I took from conference were around increasing the number of branch LGBT+ officers, developing young LGBT+ members, increasing participation in Trans Ally training, and negotiating equality policies in the workplace.
I’m optimistic others who attended conference will begin to focus on these areas, as I will in my branch. Along with our current partnership with Rotherham Pride, I’m confident we can make the ‘Year of LGBT+ workers’ next year a success, and I hope the same is true across the country.”