CWU LGBT Conference report

Winning equal rights for Northern Ireland’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community was top of the agenda at the CWU LGBT Conference in Bristol on Wednesday.
First motion of the day, moved by Cathy Chilcott of Bristol & District Amal Branch, noted that “Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage is still banned.”
The CWU must “continue up to defend existing equities legislation across the UK and support campaigns to achieve same-sex marriage elegislation in Northern Ireland,” Cathy urged.
Greater Manchester Combined Branch delegate Tara Morgan introduced the next proposition, which described attempts to exclude trans women from women’s spaces as “discrimination.”
The motion called on the union to “campaign to ensure that trans women are not discriminated against, both in their daily lives and political activity.”
Tara talked further about the difficulties faced by trans people in society and commented: “This hasn’t been a good year for trans women. There’s a hell of a long way to go – trans women are at the bottom of the barrel.”
Maria Exall, from Greater London Combined Branch, told conference: “It’s vitally important that we stand together as L, G, B and T in defence of our rights and with our straight brothers and sisters, changing our workplaces and our society,” as she moved another motion aimed at fighting discrimination against trans people.
The motion from Maria’s branch, which was selected for submission to the forthcoming National Conferemce of the union next April, sets out four key points of principle which a CWU submission to the Government’s Review of the Gender Recognition Act would follow.
A busy day for delegates saw 11 resolutions adopted in total, covering a wide variety of subjects affecting the LGBT community at work in wider society and within the CWU, ranging from the need to increase our presence at Pride events to the union’s internal Re-design project.
Conference heard strong speeches from our general secretary Dave Ward and national equality officer Linda Roy, followed by warm welcoming addresses from South West Region secretary Kevin Beaver and Bristol city councillor Kye Dudd.
Two keynote guest speakers, from National Aids Trust (NAT) and anti-suicide charity PAPYRUS gave inspiring talks to conference, each setting out the invaluable work that their respective organisations carry out.
Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT, pointed out that 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Trust and she listed the any advances that have been achieved over that time.
But more still needs to be done, she insisted, pointing out that 100,000 people are currently diagnosed with the condition and saying: “This is a hugely important time to recommit to this fight.
“For 30 years we’ve worked together against HIV – now let’s end it,” she urged.
Sarah Blackie told conference that suicide is the “biggest killer of young people” in the UK today and that “we need to talk about it.”
People should be encouraged to seek appropriate help, she said, and urged delegates to be alert to indications from friends or colleagues – “or even someone you don’t care for” that they could be at risk.
Sarah, who led a well-received question and answer session after her speech,  represents PAPYRUS at suicide prevention groups and events and also helps to provide the HOPELineUK service for young people.