Following the massive publicity for the last-minute problems that afflicted World Pride in London on 7 July, the TUC has taken the lead in calling on LGBT community groups and trade unions to come together to discuss how to prevent a repetition, with a starting point of there being a free, national Pride event in London, led by the LGBT community.
To that end, a community meeting will take place in Congress House on Monday 16 July, convened following a unanimous vote of delegates at the 2012 TUC LGBT Conference.
The true story about what caused the main statutory bodies (the Mayor of London, Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police) to force Pride to cut back drastically on its original plans with a week to go was given to the conference by the acting Chair of Pride London. Many activists were angry that what should have been an assertion of our communities' visibility and our achievements, alongside our solidarity with the many LGBT people around the world facing persecution and worse, had fallen foul of these enforced changes.
Some have blamed the current board of Pride London. No doubt, as with anything human, mistakes were made. But it would be quite wrong to direct hostility against people who have worked unbelievably hard, and as volunteers, to deliver a fantastic day on 7 July.
It is even more inappropriate for people who put nothing into Pride to assert that they could do it better.
The trade union section fills the road (photo: L Smith)
Despite the ban on floats (four unions had gone to great trouble to organise these) and despite the dodgy weather, there were more trade unionists marching in London for World Pride on 7 July 2012 than ever before. Union banners, TUC Pride flags, TUC World Pride t-shirts, all proclaimed trade union support for LGBT equality at home and abroad. The following unions had a visible presence at the parade:
ASLEF, BDA, CSP, CWU, Equity, FBU, FDA, GMB, MU, NASUWT, NUT, PCS, POA, Prospect, RMT, TSSA, UCU, Unison and Unite.
A number of international trade unionists who had been guests at the TUC LGBT Conference also brought their solidarity to the event.
At the rally in Trafalgar Square, TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady delivered a powerful oration highlighting the importance of LGBT struggles for equality at home and abroad, crying shame on those who had cut back on World Pride, condemning the impact of the Government's austerity cuts and urging support for the TUC march for a future that works on October 20. Her speech was warmly received.
CWU on the march (photo: L Smith)
A colourful array of trade union stalls stood in front of London's national gallery, delivering the trade union message to the crowds of people thronging the area. Stalls were organised by GMB, NASUWT, NUT, PCS RMT, UCU, Unison, Unite and USDAW.
This year, and seeing off strong opposition, the prize for best trade union stall was won by GMB, with the Unite the Union stall a close runner up. Congratulations to them!
An integral part of World Pride was the attention paid to the oppression faced by LGBT people around the world. Pride had decided to focus on the issue of decriminalising homosexuality in the many countries of the Commonwealth where, largely as a result of British colonial law, it remains illegal. Six speakers from Commonwealth countries led the discussion at the World Pride international conference held on 4 July, an event also sponsored by the TUC. TUC LGBT officer Peter Purton also addressed delegates on the actual and potential role of trade unions in taking forward the fight for equality. Delegates from several UK unions took part in the event, alongside LGBT trade union guests from several countries including Germany, Poland, and Belgium.
The POA under their banner (photo: A Ruzylo)
The annual TUC LGBT conference - this was the 15th - took place on 5-6 July at Congress House. There was a strong international flavour to the event, as the Committee had decided to reflect the fact of World Pride in the speakers who had been invited, while many unions had also sent in motions on international issues.
Michael Cashman MEP (photo: L Smith)
Haneen Maikey from al-Qaws, the Palestinian LGBT organisation, spoke powerfully on the situation of LGBT Palestinians in Israel and in Palestine. Michael Cashman MEP, in a wide-ranging contribution, talked about the battle for LGBT equality in Europe. But the undoubted highlight for many delegates were the presentations made on the second morning by Kemone Brown from South Africa (a native of Jamaica), Siddarth Narrain from India (involved in winning the court case that struck down India's ant-gay laws), and Kenita Placide from St Lucia. Their powerful firsthand accounts of their struggles against great odds and their absolute commitment to see it through despite all the problems, including death threats, moved the entire conference to show its deep respect and complete solidarity.
Kemone Brown, Siddarth Narrain and Kenita Placide at the TUC LGBT Conference (photo: L Smith)
In this year of the Olympics and Paralympics, and following a successful day of action organised with Bradford City FC at the initiative of the CWU, Unite's Ann Morgan, an active member of the TUC Alliance against Homophobia and Transphobia in football, made a presentation to highlight the publication of an action plan and template adapted for trade unionists from an original developed by Alliance member Lindsay England, who runs Just a Ball Game?
Ann Morgan addressing conference (photo: L Smith)
Ann's presentation provoked a lively exchange as numerous delegates reported actions they had taken or were planning to take to promote this campaign. Copies of the template can be obtained from the TUC office, and the original document and other resources can be found by contacting email@example.com.
Another major theme of the 2012 conference was the need to work to ensure that trade union LGBT work genuinely reflects the diversity within the communities we represent. Guest speaker Linda Bellos OBE highlighted the issues, and a report was distributed to delegates on progress achieved by trade unions towards achieving truly representative structures (this can be downloaded free from the LGBT page of the TUC website, www.tuc.org.uk).
Several motions focussed on the continued oppression of trans people including in Europe and the horrendous level of often murderous violence faced by this community.
The position of bisexual trade unionists also featured, as it did in 2011, and a motion was passed to create two additional reserved seats on the TUC LGBT Committee for bisexual representatives. This rule change is subject to endorsement by the TUC General Council.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber urges delegates to build for a Future that Works (photo: L Smith)
A constant theme running through the 2012 TUC LGBT Conference was the necessity to expose the truth of the real impact of Government policy on LGBT people, the devastating cuts to community services, impact on jobs, young LGBT people put at high risk through changes to housing benefit - the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, ministers use the promise of introducing equal marriage rights as a cloak and pretence that the government is LGBT-friendly.
Unions will work hard to ensure a strong, visible, out and proud LGBT presence at the TUC march on 20 October, and will encourage LGBT people who are not marching with their unions to join an 'out against austerity' contingent on the day.
This newsletter was put together by the TUC LGBT and Disability Officer, Peter Purton, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newsletter (1,400 words) issued 11 Jul 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-21202-f0.cfm
printed 19 May 2013 at 13:42 hrs by 188.8.131.52