UNISON National LGBT Conference at Brighton 17-19 November 2017

Kim Brookes attends the LGBT conference;

This year I was the only delegate from Community & Voluntary Organisations Branch I spoke on a number of motions two that stand out.

  •  13, Non Binary Inclusion,   I supported and stated that we were setting up an equalities forum to help those who do not wish to be covered by a SOG and how our branch wishes  to be more inclusive.
  • 32, Trans and Gender Non -Conforming in Schools, Colleges, University, I spoke about my experience as a young Transgender and the need for support from peers and teachers not just family.

Conference’s special invited guest was Salford-based Nigerian asylum seeker Aderonke Aparta who finally received her leave to remain this year and talked movingly about her struggles to get her case heard, the situation which led to her leading the hunger strike in Yarlswood Detention Centre and the work she currently undertakes with the African Rainbow Family.

Her courage, determination and commitment have led her to become one of the country’s leading voices in the fight for an end to the government’s inhumane detention regime and appropriate treatment for all asylum seekers’ I  also know the Law Centre was involved in getting a Judicial Review regarding the detention centre.

Lord Ray Collins (Opposition Spokesperson for DFID and Foreign Affairs) from the All Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT rights (APPG) also spoke to conference. The APPG’s work to date has referenced the need for greater understanding of the role of trade unions in global LGBT equality. The APPG works closely with the UK Alliance for Global Equality which UNISON believes could benefit from trade union involvement – so we hope to have something positive to report in future. Additionally he reminded Conference that 36 of the 52 Commonwealth member states still criminalise consensual same-sex relations and fail to uphold or recognise the rights of their Trans citizens – a shameful legacy of British imperialism and colonisation.

Conference was also addressed by Assistant General Secretary Christine McAnea on the Pay Up Now Campaign and Senior Vice-President Gordon McKay on the value of LGBT Campaigning work.

The most controversial debate – leading to the first card vote at an LGBT Conference in ages- was around Stonewall’s failure to recognise and incorporate trade unions into its Equality Index work. Despite assurances given at TUC LGBT+ Conference earlier this year Stonewall has not amended its guidance. Its model actively excludes trade unions in favour of staff groups. Additionally, there was a wide-ranging debate over Stonewall’s approach to Trans inclusion.

All in all it was a busy conference for me and I tried to ensure that the branch was visible (and audible!) through my interventions and presence.

Kim Brookes


Report on Service Group

I attended the LGBT conference on behalf of Community and the Voluntary Organisation Branch and attended the Community Service Group meeting.

The following issues were raised during the meeting:


  • The growing pressure on workers in front line Community organisations as a result of Austerity measures.
  • Fragmentation and the increasing difficulties in getting Community members to engage.
  • The marginalisation of Community members in Local Government and Health branches – either by omission or deliberate exclusion from posts/delegations.
  • The potential crisis for Community organisations that rely heavily on European Funding and what happens post-Brexit? This needs to be incorporated into our agenda and work with Labour link.
  • Pensions – need to highlight the SGE’s work on Pensions due to the number of TUPE transferees who are still members of the LGPS.
  • Stonewall – dichotomous position: amazing work on Equality issues but hostile to inclusion/recognition of value of trade unions in their Diversity Champions programme
  • Citizens Advice – concerns over funding cuts to their LGBT network.
  • Terrance Higgins Trust – re-structuring their service delivery mechanism (creating 6 ‘hubs’ across the UK and cutting staffing). De-recognition of UNISON.
  • Creative Support – disparity across the board in staff experiences of them as an employer in terms of basic working rights/practices due to their business model.

The meeting noted the 2 motions submitted by the LGBT SOG to 2018 Community Conference. These are Organising for LGBT Equality in the Community Sector and Pay up now in Community!

The issue of Community Conference motion submission deadlines falling before LGBT Conference (and other Self Organised Group Conferences) was raised. It was explained the Standing Order relating to this and that to alter the existing procedure would require a rule change to NDC.

The delegates to Community Conference elected are: Pat Jones (Welsh Region) and Paul Amann (Liverpool City).

Kim Brookes