UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

LGBT conference builds fight against austerity

#ulgbt14 UNISON's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender members met this weekend in Blackpool for hopefully the last time under this Tory led Government.
   As always LGBT Conference debated a wide variety of motions, with austerity and cuts being a recurring theme. Housing, where young LGBT members are particularly suffering from attacks on their rights to housing benefit, risking them being in hostile private shared housing. Gender Services, where Trans members are struggling for support as services are cut. Of particular note this year was a number of motions around supporting older LGBT people, with the shocking state of our fragmented and mostly privatised social care where there is huge fear of discrimination.

One of the most passionate debates at conference was around what we should do to kick out the Tories at the general election next may. Following the debate conference overwhelming backed the composite which resolved to work with LGBT Labour to get our members involved and registered to vote, support Labour candidates that support UNISON's values, and campaign for a Labour victory. The passionate debate reflected concerns that Labour aren't offering a genuine break from austerity, and clearly Labour still have a lot to do to build support.

UNISON has always had a proud tradition of international work, and the LGBT self organised group has a key focus on this. We heard from an excellent speaker from South Africa talking about her struggles as a lesbian and focussing on the need too listen to the people when we do international solidarity. This theme was continued as we heard debates on Uganda, Columbia and Palestine. In terms of Uganda there's a real risk that well meaning campaigners here can damage Ugandan LGBT activists if we don't work with and listen to them.

Conference had a particularly spectacular welcome to Blackpool by lighting up Blackpool Tower in rainbow colours, in itself a reminder how far we've come. However what is clear from our conference is there's still much to do.