27th February 2017
As part of LGBT History Month our Learning and Regional Organiser, Kris Hendry, will be writing about LGBT history and reflecting on the next steps for LGBT equality in PCS.
You can read his previous blog here.
Each year LGBT History Month offers an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and progress the LGBT community has made over the years but also to reflect on the battles still to be won. So as we mark the end of this year’s History Month I’m going to look at just some of the inequalities still to be tackled and how you can play your part.
Over the past decade or so we’ve seen the introduction of civil partnership and later same sex marriage, providing legal recognition for same sex couples. Many referring to the latter as “equal marriage” but the fact is it was and to this day is not equal.
By law employers are only required to pay same sex survivor pensions on contributions from 2005 onwards, the year Civil Partnerships came into being. While some employers backdate to 1988 as they would for opposite sex couples, this is discretionary and can mean contributions by LGBT workers will not be paid in full to their surviving partner leaving many older LGBT people struggling in later life.
In education, the teaching of LGBT issues remains inconsistent at best despite the final repeal of Section 28 in 2003 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – Scotland did so in 2000. Many young LGBT people still experience discrimination and bullying on their way through our education system, leading to higher rates of mental health related issues, self harm and even suicide among young LGBT people.
As a Trade Union these issues should concern all of us as the youth of today are the workers of tomorrow and adequate training on equality issues at a young age will help prepare young people for life after school, protect their wellbeing as well as helping tackle much of the negative attitudes we experience in workplaces and communities today.
Even protection from discrimination is not assured for all LGBT people, despite the Equality Act. Last year the Westminster Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee produced a report with over 30 recommendations the Westminster Government should undertake to help improve equality for the Transgender community, something they are yet to do.
More generally we must all stand up against the rise in LGBT related hate crime reported over the past year, but not only that but the rise in all other forms of hate that have been seen since the EU Referendum and the election of President Trump.
After all many who identify as LGBT will experience multiple discrimination as they may also be black, or disabled, or female or any combination therein as well as of varying ages which can bring its own issues. For those who intersect equality strands we cannot discount one characteristic in favour of another and we must stand against ALL forms of hate and discrimination.
So what can you do?
Well I’m of course going to say join Proud (and PCS if you’re not already a member) and get involved. Proud members set the agenda for our National Committee through our Annual General Meeting which this year is taking place on Saturday 4th March in Birmingham. You could also stand for the Proud National Committee with various roles available for those interested, including equality and regional based roles.
With this also being AGM season, why not submit a motion? If there’s an issue you want PCS as a Union to take action on then submit a motion through your Branch to go to Annual Conference for debate. In addition, make sure to check out the Conference agenda once it is published, attend your Branch mandating meeting and make sure your delegates will be representing you at Conference.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, Conference has previously debated and successfully carried a range of motions in relation to LGBT and all areas of equality and that is only through the action of PCS members raising such motions in the first place.
If you are interested in getting more involved but have any questions then please feel free contact Proud and we will be happy to discuss more with you. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and all contact will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Thank you to everyone who has supported Proud, PCS’ LGBT members and the wider LGBT community this History Month, we appreciate your continued support and look forward to continuing to work together as we look to the future. Solidarity.