This year’s conference opened with a sobering reminder of the prejudice and violence faced by LGB&T people worldwide as a minute’s silence was held for the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida. The names of the victims were read out by a delegate during a motion on the first of the two day event and an emergency motion was passed sending a message of solidarity to victims and their families.
During the course of day one, we listened to further motions highlighting a range of challenges for LGB&T people relating to participation in politics, state benefits, HIV treatment and non-binary gender identities. For example, did you know the UK has the highest number of LGB&T MPs in the world? Encouraging, but they are all white and only six are women.
In 2014, there were 3,360 new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men – the highest number ever recorded in a year? A motion was passed urging immediate access to drugs for high risk groups. In the afternoon, journalist and campaigner, Owen Jones, gave an enthusiastic and rousing speech stressing the need to pull together in uncertain times, referencing the EU referendum taking place that day across the country. He reminded us that progress was usually won by minorities, the underdog and by sheer persistence.
Day two opened with widespread feeling of shock over the outcome of the referendum, some delegates spoke passionately about the likely adverse impact on LGB&T people, at times in tears. As the morning moved on the atmosphere picked up to be one of resolve and commitment to continue the fight to improve LGB&T lives at home and abroad.
I spoke, on behalf of NAPO, in support of a motion to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender people, highlighting research indication over 60% of those affected are discriminated against and I called on trade unions to ensure representatives are aware of trans issues and can offer informed support. Shirley and I attended the transgender fringe meeting to contribute to a discussion on making this happen and we expect to see a TUC endorsed action plan in place over the coming months.
Other motions reflected LGB&T representation in the Media, the 42 of 53 Commonwealth states that discriminate against us and improving support for young people.
In summary, this year’s conference was a time of reflection on where the LGB&T community stands now, the hard fought battles that we have won and remembering that we still have the passion and energy to face our future hurdles head on, together.