08 February 2021
February is LGBT+ History Month. It’s an opportunity for us to take a look at some of the rich contributions of the community.
The point of LGBT+ History Month is to celebrate the contributions of LGBT+ people, in all their diversity, and in doing so, educate out prejudice. You can find many resources on the LGBT+ History Month website including past profiles, and an educational resource pack. This year, the theme is “body, mind and spirit”, and there are five faces that have been selected to represent the theme:
For this year's LGBT+ history month, Accord's Equality Diversity & Inclusion group decided to focus on the contributions of trade union activists and celebrate the contributions they are making in order to inspire others. We know it's important for us to have role models to inspire, educate and encourage those that may not ordinarily wish to be seen in the spotlight. Accord is an inclusive union, and represents members from diverse backgrounds.
We've pulled together two interviews, and a blog post from one of the trade union movements long standing campaigns, Peter Purton.
Simon Whittaker has been an active Accord rep for over 12 years. We caught up with Simon to discuss his activism and his nomination to the TUC LGBT+ committee.
Claire Mullaly has been active in her union for over 10 years. We caught up with Claire to discuss her LGBT+ activism and her work through the TUC LGBT+ committee.
Very little of the story of how LGBT+ people won the right not to be discriminated against in Britain is taught in our educational institutions. Peter Purton's blog from 2018 provides us with some history lessons.
On the 25th & 26th February, the TUC will be hosting the LGBT+ workers conference, which for the first time will be a virtual event and open to all LGBT+ workers - you can register for the event and others on our events page.
The TUC LGBT+ conference offers an opportunity to debate the trade union movement’s response to the pandemic and other important issues impacting LGBT+ workers. The TUC equality conferences give guidance to the TUC on relevant equality issues and priorities for the year.
Accord rep, Simon Whittaker, is standing in the election for the TUC LGBT+ workers committee. The committee members are elected by and come from TUC affiliated unions - their task is to guide the TUC General Council and to progress the issues set at each annual conference.
"LGBT+ workers have faced unprecedented pressures during the pandemic, often because of being isolated from support networks and specialist services. Some have endured the lockdown period with hostile and discriminatory family members. LGBT+ workers have also faced increased risks of domestic abuse over the lockdown period, with scarce support services available." - TUC Congress statement 2020
Anybody can be subject to domestic abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, or other socio-economic or personal characteristics. Abuse is most commonly within domestic relationships, but it can also be within close family groups such as parents to children. We often think of violence and threats when we think about domestic abuse, but there are many forms including financial abuse and emotional abuse such as gaslighting.
While domestic abuse can occur in all types of relationships, there are some specific issues which occur in an LGBT+ context such as threats to 'out' someone, undermining their gender or sexual identity and isolating them from their networks or support groups. In same sex relationships, abuse may seek to use stereotypes to deny violence is taking place or suggest it's a normal part of that type of relationship. In the transgender community, a form of abuse could be withholding medication such as hormone therapies, misgendering or using a 'dead name' purposefully to undermine the individual's sense of self.
Domestic abuse is never the fault of the person who is experiencing it.
Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on those in the LGBT+ community, some of whom have found themselves locked into abusive relationships or having to spend lockdown with hostile family members. There's also a higher risk of LGBT+ people facing redundancy due to already high levels of discrimination in the workplace. It's therefore never been more important to reach in and support those around you - including those who you may work with.
SafeLives is a UK wide charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse - their 'reach in' campaign can help you have supportive conversations with those suffering abuse.
The Accord Equality Diversity & Inclusion group’s aim is to ensure every individual has the right to an equal opportunity to maximise their potential, regardless of background, and to be treated with dignity and respect. It’s a place where diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are welcomed and cherished without prejudice or judgement. It’s also a chance to collectively learn from our experiences, allowing us to remove barriers and enrich each other’s lives.
The group has a calendar of activities we'll be getting involved in across the year on a broad spectrum of topics. If you’re interested, why not get involved — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or register to join online.