Unison 2022 LGBT+ Conference (Branch officer’s report)

Despite the cancellations and delays due to the adverse Scottish weather, our delegation consisting of Joanna Hebda (Chair, LGBT+ and Women’s Officer) and Stacey Whittle (Steward) has made it to Edinburgh to take part in the UNISON 2022 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Plus Conference taking place on 18-20 November. We joined the biggest yet Northern representation at the conference.

The Conference started on Friday lunch time with caucus meetings and informative drop in sessions on subjects like the Trans Equality Campaign, resources and tips for LGBT+ organising, Trans Health care, and UNISON equality. We then broke out into Service Group meetings and Regional meetings and rounded off the day with the Civic Reception in beautiful Edinburgh City Chambers and were welcomed by UNISON Scottish Secretary Tracey Dalling, and Right Honourable Robert Aldridge Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

The next day started early, with the main event: the plenary sessions. Apart from going through the motions, we held a minute of silence to honour the next day’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and listen to the keynote speakers: UNISON General Secretary Christine McAnea and ILGA World Executive Director Julia Ehrt. We also had additional caucus meetings and discussion groups. The day wrapped up with a Northern Region meal and another social, which involved a Highland ceilidh and a disco, however our delegates decided to retire to their hotel rooms after the meal.

On Sunday we again debated and voted on motions, listened to the keynote speaker, UNISON President Andrea Egan and celebrated the winners of the LGBT+ Organising Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Jackie Lewis of Greater London region. We managed to vote on all the motions submitted and accepted into the conference and the debate over them has brought many vulnerable moments where members would describe times where they met with discrimination and hate crimes, reiterating how vital our work in the area of equalities is.

A redacted list of motions passed:

  1. In Support of Gender Neutral Toilets and Changing Facilities
  2. Negotiating Trans Equality With Employers
  3. LGBT+ Hate Crime
  4. EDI Speeding Ticket Scheme
  5. We Must STrive for Real and Meaningful LGBT+ Data
  6. Rwanda and LGBT+ Asylum
  7. Support for LGBT+ Communities in Ukraine
  8. Solidarity with Ghana’s LGBT+ Community
  9. Immediate Ban on All Forms of Conversion Therapy
  10. Combatting Anti-Trans Narratives in the Media
  11. Defend Disabled and LGBT+ Rights Won Through the Human Rights Act
  12. Recruiting and Organising Young LGBT+ Members
  13. Equality is UNISON Business
  14. Supporting Young Trans Workers in UNISON
  15. Making the “+” a Positive – Continuing the Work of Inclusion
  16. Increasing Bi+ Engagement in Our Self-Organised Group
  17. Accessible Organising for LGBT+ Members
  18. Why LGBT+ Employees Should Join UNISON
  19. Trans Rights and the Labour Party (emergency motion)

Motions passed to National Delegates Conference:

  1. Make 2024 The Year of LGBT+ Workers
    2. Equalities Grow Our Union

The conference closed with a sing- and dance-along to ABBA’s Waterloo and we joyfully got back home after an exciting, but tiring weekend.

If you would like to see further information on the motions, or would like to get more involved in our LGBT+ organising, please get in touch with me at joanna.hebda@ncl.ac.uk

With warmest and most rainbow wishes,

Joanna Hebda (she/her)

Branch Chair, LGBT+ and Women’s Officer
UNISON Newcastle University