Current Size: 100%
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights
Share this page
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights
The TUC campaigns for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people at work and in society. An annual national conference for lesbian and gay trade unionists was established in 1998 (bisexual and transgender rights were included shortly after). The conference elects a committee to advise the TUC on LGBT issues.
The TUC has been involved in all the campaigns to end legal discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and helped bring about all the legal reforms since the late 1990s, including same sex marriage in 2013. This work included challenging the government over the employment regulations (now contained within the Equality Act 2010) in the High Court in 2004, after which a partial victory was won on survivor benefits in occupational pensions.
The TUC now supports the campaign to end the exemptions altogether.
Safe housing for LGBT people is a matter of life and death
"I was 16 years old and living at home when I came out as gay to my Mum and her boyfriend. He said I was disgusting. He told me I'd be a bad influence on my sisters. He wanted me to leave. He said to my Mum that she had to choose between me or him: she chose him.” Jamie, aged 16 (case study from Stonewall Housing)
Finding a safe home for young LGBT can literally save lives. When they come out to their families they may experience homophobia, biophobia, transphobia and even violence. These discriminatory and bigoted attitudes may also manifest itself in other housing setting.
Oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity exacerbate the housing problems including rogue landlords, cuts to young people’s housing benefits and a lack of rent caps to name but a few.
There are an estimated 80,000 homeless young people and young LGBT people make up 24 percent of them. This is hugely disproportionate to the UK LGBT population. It has been reported that 69 percent of young LGBT people who found themselves homeless had experienced familial rejection, abuse or violence.
Similarly, a Scottish survey found that 19 percent of trans people had been homeless at some point with a significant proportion reporting this was the result of other people’s attitudes on discovering their transgender history.
Oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity can be compounded for young people from faith communities. Imaan, a charity working with LGBT Muslims, as well as Albert Kennedy Trust, have reported of the threat of “honour based violence” for some people within these groups. In these instances being an LGBT young person is seen as bringing “shame” and “dishonour” to the family and young people are at risk of violence, forced marriage and even death. Housing and homelessness for LGBT people is an intersectional issue.
This paper sets out these and other housing issues facing young LGBT people today. It builds on the recommendations of the TUC charter on housing for young people, drawn up by the TUC Young Members’ Forum. It calls on unions to build relationships with LGBT community organisations and use collective bargaining to tackle discrimination, and to campaign for housing policies that are humane and just.
Campaigning for LGBT equality in the workplace
In the workplace LGBT people may experience oppression and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It is critical that trade union reps and negotiators have the tools to bargain for LGBT inclusion in the workplace.
Current assessment criteria which cover LGBT equality in the workplace, such as the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, are useful indicators and have been important in shaping the debate, but they don’t always encompass the full range of issues that unions might want to consider.
This new guidance is a basis for unions to negotiate for LGBT equality in the workplace.
TUC submission to Inquiry on Trans Equality
The TUC supports the manifesto agreed by trans organisations calling for a review of all relevant legislation including removal of the “spousal veto” preventing many trans people from being able to enjoy the right to same sex marriage. Please support the current campaign for politicians to back its demands: http://www.lgbtconsortium.org.uk/transmanifesto
Promote equality in education
Alongside work to remove outstanding legal inequalities, the TUC campaigns to challenge the ignorance and prejudice that remain strong in British society. To this end, unions work to promote equality in areas such as education (where we work with campaigns such as Schools Out (http://www.schools-out.org.uk) and sport, where the TUC hosts an alliance of groups working for the same goals.
LGBT History Month - February
A list of trade union events for LGBT History Month can be found at on the events page.
The TUC supports LGBT History Month each February and many unions organise activities during the month (http://www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk).
The TUC and many individual unions take part in LGBT Pride events across the country every summer. The TUC nationally supports Pride London and organises a large trade union presence at the Pride parade and the subsequent rally in Trafalgar Square. The TUC also actively promotes UK Black Pride (www.ukblackpride.org.uk).
International solidarity has been important to the TUC and encouraging the trade union movement in Europe and globally to challenge oppressive laws and prejudiced cultures in the many countries where being LGB or T is illegal or currently socially unacceptable has been a central priority. The Charter for international LGBT solidarity [PDF].
Guidance is published from time to time to help unions, union members and LGBT rights campaigners to promote LGBT equality in the workplace and to ensure the full inclusion of LGBT people in all areas. The latest workplace guidance LGBT Equality at Work was published in 2013.
For information about the TUC’s work on LGBT issues contact Huma Munshi, [email protected].