As a LGBTQ rights activist I always look forward to attending UNISON’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members) national conference. Conference is essentially an event to allow this self-organised group to discuss issues and set policy affecting members who self-identify as LGBT. The national LGBT committee then work on the agreed policies on behalf of the members.
While this may not sound the most exciting of events to attend I can re-assure you that being surrounded by fellow trade unionists that not only understand you but can relate to you is truly a joy to experience. I’ve been attending the LGBT conference for a couple of years now and every year we have something new to discuss. Last year the main topic of discussion was biphobia and how we can organise to tackle biphobia in the workplace. This year the main theme of discussion was non-binary (a catch-all term that describes any gender identity which does not fit within the binary of male and female) gender indentifies.
A lot of the event will be setting policy which is generally straight forward as the majority of motions (a formal proposal) people put forward are all things we agree on. The great thing about this though is that every motion submitted comes with speakers, who are either for or against the motion, who not only argue their opinion but also give real life accounts about how they could be affected, or have been affected, by the motion being discussed. I would heavily encourage anyone attending conference to make every effort to attend a discussion group; these are little break away sessions to discuss the current ‘hot topics’ whether that be gender identity, sexism within the LGBT community or general advice on how to be active in your workplace when it comes to LGBT equality.
It’s quite difficult to put into words how enriching I found the conference as it can be daunting with all the various terms being used and meeting new people for the first time but it can be, and has been, life changing for some people. Just being around people who have been there at the very beginning of the LGBT equality movement can help you discover so much about the LGBT movement and sometimes, yourself.
Find out more about UNISON’s fight against discrimination and prejudice in the workplace at: https://www.unison.org.uk/about/what-we-do/fairness-equality/lgbt/