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Out at Work

A unionlearn/TUC Education workbook on LGBT people in the workplace

Out at Work


Out at Work A unionlearn/TUC Education workbook on LGBT people in the workplace

Copyright © 2007 unionlearn isbn: 978 1 85006 790 0 First published 2007 Trades Union Congress, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London wc1b 3ls, t: 020 7636 4030, f: 020 7636 0632, Design and Art Direction: Nicky Barneby @ Barneby Ltd Print: Newnorth Text photography copyright © Simon Weller Additional text photography copyright © Chris Moyse, pages 12, 19, 29, 58 and 75 Cover photography copyright © Simon Weller and Getty For more copies of this title contact our ordering point on 020 7467 1294 or email Bulk discounts may be offered. All TUC publications may be made available for dyslexic or visually impaired readers, on request, in an agreed electronic format or in accessible formats such as Braille, audio tape and large print, at no extra cost. Contact TUC Publications on 020 7467 1294.

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CO N T E N T S Foreword




How to use this book


Language – using the right words Unions and equal rights



Why are equal rights an employment issue? Lesbian, gay and bisexual people at work



> Coming out at work

LGBT people and trade unions


> Encouraging LGBT workers to join the union > LGBT structures in the TUC and unions

Lesbian, gay and bisexual rights at work


> Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 > Workplace bargaining > Monitoring

Work/life balance > > > > >


Family issues The Disability Discrimination Act and HIV Civil partnerships and pensions Barriers to services Equality Act (2006) and the Equality Commission

Harassment and bullying


> Domestic violence > Bullied children > Hate crimes and the police


Trans people at work


> The Gender Recognition Act 2004

LGBT communities worldwide


> International support

Appendix A – Sample questionnaire


Appendix B – Suggested solutions to case studies Appendix C – A useful glossary of LGBT terms Appendix D – Resources and contacts Acknowledgements

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F O R E WO R D TUC Education has a strong record in promoting and developing equal opportunities in the world of work and within unions. Tackling Racism and Working Women have been highly successful and influential, running into two editions and numerous reprints. Work on developing disability champions, on challenging the far right and on issues such as the workplace implications of domestic violence have all added to the reputation the TUC and unions have for campaigning and putting policy into practise. This workbook fills a gap in our provision. While the TUC has consistently campaigned for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at work and in society, the capacity of TUC Education to follow this through in the classroom as fully as we would have liked has been limited. This book opens new opportunities to take the agenda forward. Out at Work is about the lives of LGBT people at

work and in the trade union movement. It is written for all workplace representatives and aims to equip them with advice, information and reference points on LGBT issues. It is accompanied by tutor briefings and a tutor note on how to use the publication in a range of educational and other contexts. We hope it will add to the good work unions have been doing on LGBT issues and take forward this important work for the TUC.

Brendan Barber General Secretary


INTRODUCTION This book is about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people at work and in the trade union movement. It is written for all workplace representatives and union branches. It aims to help workplace reps understand: > > > >

the historical and legal context of issues affecting LGBT members key social and employment issues facing LGBT members the workplace rep’s role in relation to LGBT issues why these issues are trade union issues.


H OW TO U S E T H I S B O O K Out at Work is designed for use in workplace discussion groups, TUC courses and in the wider union movement. The book has a mixed format, combining easy to read information with a mix of facts and information for trade union activists and activities for groups. You can either use it as a resource to stimulate discussion or as a source to dip into on issues you might be unsure about. Each section provides a checklist of actions for reps to work towards and activities to help create a stronger understanding of the issues, enabling reps to raise awareness and create change in the workplace. Some members will never have discussed or considered the issues in Out at Work before so it addresses the needs of those who know very little, as well as those who can use their familiarity with the issues to raise awareness. After using this book, reps and branches will: > have enough information and confidence to assist LGBT members > understand the language surrounding LGBT issues and be confident using it > be able to take steps to represent LGBT members and encourage them to become active in their union > be clear about the negotiating priorities for LGBT members.

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Sources This book refers to a recent research study by the Comparative Organisation and Equality Research Centre (COERC) at London Metropolitan University, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Workers – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace (2006). The TUC was represented on the advisory board for the study and trade unionists were interviewed. There are also references to material contained on the Stonewall website,

Note: This book is for use in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Employment legislation is the same in all three countries. Family law, such as the law on joint adoption, is currently different in Scotland, so Scottish branches should check the law on issues outside employment legislation.

L A N G UAG E – U S I N G T H E R I G H T WO R D S Language and how it is used is important. Some people worry they will say the wrong thing so end up saying nothing. Others think it is alright not to care about the kinds of words they use and are deliberately offensive. Sometimes it is alright to ask for advice on which words are appropriate, but you need to take responsibility too – in formal negotiations you will want to be clear and consistent, as well as confident about using the appropriate language. The kind of language you use will depend upon your circumstances. For example, it is rare for someone to be referred to as ‘heterosexual’ in everyday conversation or to talk about their ‘sexual orientation’. It is more common to say ‘straight’ or ‘sexuality’. But because legislation refers to ‘sexual orientation’, it is important that representatives are confident using the term in legal settings. The TUC advises that unions use the words lesbian, gay or bisexual. The word trans can be used without offence to cover both people undergoing gender transition and people who identify as someone with a different gender from that in which they were born, but who may have decided not to undergo medical treatment. The TUC Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans Committee use this term. Some common definitions are given below and there is a longer list of useful terms in Appendix 3.

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Bisexual: a person who has sexual relationships with men and women. Gender: sex of an individual, male or female, based on reproductive anatomy. Gender can also be expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, and as such is culturally determined. Heterosexual: person who experiences sexual attraction towards and responsiveness to members of the opposite sex (use the term ‘straight’ when talking to members). Homosexual: term for lesbians and gay men, rarely used by lesbians and gay men, but sometimes used in formal documents (use lesbian or gay when talking to members). Sexual orientation: an attraction towards persons of the same sex, the opposite sex or both sexes – lesbian/gay, straight or bisexual (use ‘sexuality’ when talking to members). Transgender person: a person who believes their gender identity is wrong. Transsexual person: legal/medical term for someone who lives (or wishes to live) permanently in their ‘new’ gender.

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Reviewing experience


to help you: > consider your experience of dealing with LGBT issues > identify successes and problems.


In groups discuss your experience of dealing with LGBT issues. Describe: > > > > >

the issue your role what you did what successes you consider you had the biggest obstacle you came up against.

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


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Language and stereotypes


to help you: > consider how language can be offensive and discriminating > understand how stereotyping can be offensive and discriminating > begin to raise these issues with members.


In groups: Discuss how language can be hurtful and discriminatory and talk about how its use has changed over the past 20 years. Using the definitions in Appendix C think about how you can promote positive language with: > the membership you represent > your employer.


Write these definitions on a flipchart and agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.

resources Appendix C: Glossary of terms


U N I O N S A N D EQ UA L R I G H T S The TUC has 63 affiliated unions representing nearly 6.5 million working people from all walks of life. It campaigns for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and overseas. It has campaigned for equal rights for lesbian and gay men since 1985, when the first lesbian and gay rights policy was adopted. The policy has since been extended to include bisexual and trans members too. The TUC has been involved in all campaigns to end legal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Great strides have been made in recent years. 2003 regulations dealing with sexual orientation discrimination in employment were followed by the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Civil Partnership Act 2005, which established for samesex couples who formally register their relationships similar legal rights to heterosexual married couples. The TUC and trade unions were heavily involved in campaigning to secure the best possible coverage in these laws, taking the Government to the High Court over contents of the employment regulations. As a further result of TUC campaigning (in alliance with Stonewall, the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights and others), the exemption that threatened to deny equal rights in occupational pension schemes to same-sex partners was removed for registered civil partners. Most recently, campaigning for improvements to the proposed Equality Act led the government

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to agree an extension of the new law to cover goods and services protection on grounds of sexual orientation by means of regulation. Implementation is due in 2007. Despite these successes, the campaign for equality continues. There may be legislation, but using it and making it work is what matters. And there are gaps too – trans rights, for example, will not be included in the goods and service protection in the new Act. Trans people can still be indirectly discriminated against and the recognition of hate crime still needs to be made a statutory requirement for police authorities. The TUC campaigning stance is based on the belief that LGBT members have the right to equal treatment, protection from discrimination and full support from unions.

Eradicating intolerance from workplaces Addressing the TUC’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Conference in June 2006, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber (below right) said: “While the legal framework may have changed beyond recognition, we’ve yet to see a parallel shift in social attitudes. For the most part we appear to live in a largely liberal, tolerant society – but scratch beneath the surface and homophobia is alive and well. “Most shockingly we see that in the violence directed at the lesbian and gay communities. This year we remember Jody Dobrowski, who paid a horrendous price for being a gay man in the wrong place at the wrong time. His murder was one of the 1,300 homophobic crimes reported in London alone in the past year. “But such statistics, however alarming, don’t begin to tell us about the day-to-day abuse suffered by gay people. The casual jibes, the bullying at school, the hotel owners who still refuse to host same-sex couples, or the football crowds and their offensive chants. And when a national newspaper runs a frontpage story about a footballer with the headline “I’m no rear gunner”, you know the battle for hearts and minds is a long way from being won. “It’s a battle we must fight in the workplace as well as in society. And despite the lengths some employers have gone to promoting diversity and tolerance, and rooting out homophobic bigots, others simply turn a blind

eye, or actively encourage a workplace culture that makes it difficult for their lesbian and gay staff to be ‘out’ at work for fear of falling victim to the office or the factory bullies. “Four in 10 gay employees have faced abuse at work as a result of their sexuality. And new rights on the statute book mean nothing if they don’t have an impact where they are most needed. Encouraging a change of attitude towards gay people at work is vital if we are to tackle homophobic abuse head on. Unions will fight discrimination wherever it surfaces, be it in our schools, our workplaces or our communities. We will keep up the pressure on employers to raise their game and eradicate intolerance of every kind from all UK workplaces.”


Looking beyond the label The first TUC Lesbian and Gay Conference was held in 1998, since when bisexual and trans rights have also been included in its remit. The annual conference elects a committee that advises the TUC and oversees campaigns on LGBT issues. The TUC and many unions have adopted an inclusive approach to policies on sexual orientation and gender identity and have created structures for LGBT members. However, it is important to recognise that LGBT communities cover a complete cross-section of society and although there is a strong connection between the four groups (they have faced common prejudices in the past), there is a need to talk about lesbian, gay and trans people separately, not only because they have different histories, but also because legal rights differ between lesbian, gay and bisexual members and trans members. Of course, some trans members will also be lesbian, gay or bisexual. The word ‘community’ can be misleading and LGBT people may feel uncomfortable with the term. Even in towns and cities with ‘gay villages’ or active ‘scenes’, many LGBT people will not feel at home within them. Many prefer the term ‘LGBT communities’ instead, which recognises and acknowledges the diversity of all lives. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans workers are not just defined by their sexual orientation – they are also shaped by their gender, their ethnic background, their level of ability and so on.

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People can belong to more than one minority group, and those that fit into two or more are said to experience ‘double’ or ‘multiple discrimination’. Such groups include: > Some disabled and older people, who feel they are not perceived as sexual beings. As a consequence they may be excluded from LGBT communities. > Black lesbians, gay men and trans people, who often face racism as well as homophobia – sometimes from within LGBT or black communities themselves. > Lesbians and trans women, who may also face sexism in the workplace and elsewhere.

W H Y A R E EQ UA L R I G H T S A N E M P LOYM E N T I SS U E ? As with all employment legislation, trade unions have a key role in ensuring employers implement it. Employers need to be made aware of their obligations under the law. As there have been many legal changes in recent years, workplace representatives have a key role in seeing these are implemented. But it is not just about rights under the law. It is also about all workers being treated with the same respect and having the same opportunities at work. Good practice creates good reputations, which will go a long way with all communities who use the services of a given company or organisation. It is important that unions press employers to ensure good practice throughout the organisation. There are several key benefits to employers who offer good working conditions: > a more positive and committed workforce > lower stress and sickness levels > a greater number of applications for vacancies.

Stonewall champions The Diversity Champions Programme was established by the campaigning group Stonewall in 2001 to bring together organisations that wanted to tackle sexual orientation discrimination and share good practice. One of its key messages is that ‘people perform better when they can be themselves’. The programme suggests: > developing a written equalities policy > forming working groups > making a senior manager responsible for LGBT issues > establishing an LGBT network group > offering awareness training to staff. More information can be found at

Other benefits may include higher productivity, less absenteeism, lower staff turnover and, as a consequence, lower recruitment and training costs.

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Equality at work: five approaches In its 2006 research, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Workers – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace (2006), the Comparative Organisation and Equality Research Centre identified a range of organisational approaches that can be used to progress equality at work, including: > Legal compliance: Using the law to make progress in equalities. > Value/moral: Getting employers to commit on the basis that it is ‘the right thing to do’. > Workforce, diversity and inclusion: A diverse and inclusive workforce creates success. > Community diversity: Equal opportunities and diversity within the organisation are key to delivering quality services and meeting the needs of the community at large. > Business/market case: Equality at work is good for business and creating a wider market.

Setting up an LGBT network A LGBT network should be open to all LGBT staff. It could have the following purposes: > to provide a supportive and inclusive arena where LGBT staff can meet to discuss key issues > to act as an advisory forum to the employer > to act as a critical friend to the employer > to be a supportive forum for LGBT staff > to act as a focus for identifying support for trans people wherever they are within the organisation.

Using the approaches above, an employer can develop a LGBT-friendly organisational culture. One way to engage staff in cultural change within an organisation is by setting up workers’ forums for particular groups of staff, including LGBT people. They empower staff and help build a supportive work environment where they can be themselves. Time off must be given for forum activities, alongside a commitment from the employer that the forum’s findings will be taken seriously.


L E S B I A N , G AY A N D B I S E X UA L P EO P L E AT WO R K The Comparative Organisation and Equality Research Centre’s 2006 report, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Workers – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, focused on the experiences of LGB people at work within 16 ‘good practice’ employers following the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. Key findings: > Coming out at work can enable LGB workers to: > feel confident at work > have a happier work experience > foster openness and interaction with colleagues > improve productivity. > LGB people are more likely to come out at work because of: > positive equal opportunities policies > same-sex benefits > positive employer and trade union signals > the existence of LGB(T) groups > the presence of LGB colleagues and LGB senior managers. > LGB people may be prevented from coming out at work because of: > fears over career progression > a lack of visible senior LGB staff > temporary employment status > previous negative experiences of discrimination and harassment > a desire for privacy > ‘macho’ or religious attitudes/behaviours of co-workers.

> For LGB workers, the extent to which homophobia is accepted or challenged within the workplace is a key indicator of inclusion. Concerns were expressed about the enforcement of policy within organisations. Respondents voiced strong concerns about the way in which organisations relied on LGB people to come forward and ‘whistle-blow’ before tackling problems. > Discrimination and harassment can play a part in lesbian, gay and bisexual workers’ decisions to avoid promotion or stay within certain parts of organisations. Perceptions of a homophobic or unsafe environment, negative experiences and an inability to come out in their workplace can all result in LGB people leaving organisations. > Working in a ‘gay friendly’ environment has a positive impact on the job satisfaction of LGB workers. It can lead to greater happiness, openness and confidence; improved work productivity and effectiveness; enhanced job enjoyment and a feeling of loyalty to and pride in the organisation.

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> Working in a negative environment can cause lesbian, gay and bisexual workers to feel stressed, excluded and ostracised, and may result in self-censorship, problems with concentration and ultimately a desire to leave. > The study revealed that LGB workers were diverse in terms of their gender, ethnicity, disability, age, occupation and more. It supported the view that organisations needed to recognise the concept of ‘multiple discrimination’ (see Chapter 2, Looking beyond the label) and develop appropriate procedures and structures that recognised diversity. > More than two thirds of LGB respondents in the study indicated that they would be more likely to take a grievance on the grounds of sexual orientation since the introduction of the Employment Equality (SO) Regulations 2003.

Coming out at work For LGBT people, one of the biggest decisions will be to come out at work. A fear of colleagues’ reactions or memories of previous bad experiences can make it very difficult. It is easy to forget that banter, jokes and circulating joke emails can all be excluding behaviours for LGBT staff. It is important that the trade union makes every effort to ensure that the workplace is a safe and welcoming place for all members. The COERC research provides evidence that a climate where people feel able to come out offers benefits to both workers and employers. It is often difficult to start raising awareness of LGBT issues or know which issues to prioritise if LGBT members are not confident to be out at work. While you will want to involve LGBT members in developments, you must be very sensitive – especially if the issues are new to the workplace.

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Barriers to coming out at work


to help you: > consider the culture of your workplace > identify barriers or practices which might prevent LGBT members from being out.


1. Individually you will be asked to draw a map of your workplace and identify the number of LGBT members who are out at work within the various departments/sites/offices. 2. You will then be asked to work in groups to identify what barriers might exist within your workplace to LGBT members coming out. 3. Consider what you could do to remove these barriers both with the employer, members and practices/procedures.

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


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Attitudes to LGBT issues in the workplace


to help you: > become more confident in speaking up for LGBT members > promote LGBT issues in the workplace.


In groups discuss the following questions: > Do you know anyone who is openly lesbian or gay? How did you and your colleagues or friends react when they came out? > Do you think attitudes have improved towards LGBT people in recent years? How and why have attitudes changed? > Why do you think some people are hostile towards LGBT communities? Think about what people have told you during your discussion. > Which attitudes were the same as yours? > Was there a difference of attitude between younger/older people and men/women ?

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.

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LG BT P EO P L E A N D TRADE UNIONS The big picture The TUC carries out an equality audit every two years. It came out of an important rule change in 2001 which committed the TUC and unions to promote equality in all aspects of trade union work. The 2005 audit found that: > 71 per cent of unions made provision for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. > As a result of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Gender Recognition Act 2004 a number of unions issued guidance on the legislation to members and negotiators on LGBT issues. > Almost half of the unions had material/resources on transgender workers. > More than three quarters of the unions had material on harassment and bullying, with half specifically referring to ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation and gender. Other issues, including age, religion, nationality and HIV status, were covered less frequently.

C A S E ST U DY Co-operative Bank: Dignity at Work UNIFI (AMICUS) has agreed a Dignity at Work policy with the Co-op Bank. It states:

Another TUC survey, carried out in 1999, asked lesbian and gay trade unionists about their experience at work.

“The bank fully supports the right of all members of staff to work in an environment free from any form of harassment or intimidation which may constitute unacceptable behaviour on a personal level. “To this end the bank fully promotes dignity, respect and equality in the workplace, regardless of the member of staff’s sex, gender reassignment, marital status, sexual orientation, colour, race and nationality, national or ethnic origin, religion or creed, disability, responsibility for dependants, membership or nonmembership of a trade union, political affiliation, employment grade or status, or willingness to challenge harassment leading to victimisation.”

> Forty four per cent reported they had suffered discrimination because of their sexuality. The main issue reported was harassment. > In total, just under half of the unions – 46 per cent – reported negotiating improvements in rights for LGBT workers. The most common

negotiating success reported by just over a quarter was agreeing leave entitlement for same-sex partners. Arrangements for transgender workers were not far behind.

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> Only a minority of unions have representatives with specific responsibility for any sort of equalities issues and even fewer provide for such reps in their rulebooks. Only 10 unions had large numbers of equality representatives. Almost a quarter of unions said their rules made provision for equality reps.

C A S E ST U DY Trans workers and the FBU The Fire Brigades Union has negotiated groundbreaking policies for transsexual people in the workplace with the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and Strathclyde Fire Brigade. Both agreements are based on the same model, covering absence from work, medical appointments, the impact on the individual, confidentiality, uniform and clothing, support of the individual, informing colleagues, changing gender identity at work, change of name, harassment, toilets, locker rooms and showers, terminology and contacts.

C H EC K L I ST Building confidence as a rep

Workplace representatives may lack confidence in dealing with LGBT issues and worry about the reaction of some members (both straight and LGBT). This book will equip you with the appropriate knowledge and information to build your confidence. > Familiarise yourself with the language guide in Chapter 1 and the glossary in Appendix C. > Look at your union’s website and any relevant documents or pamphlets that cover LGBT issues. > Look at other trade union websites. Check how they organise and identify any successes they have had. > Look at the websites of the organisations listed at the back of the book. > Check with others – including union colleagues – whether LGBT issues have been dealt with at work before and what the response or results were.


Encouraging LGBT workers to join the union Trade unions have a key role to play in improving the lives of LGBT workers. Putting this into practice means: > being clear about what a trade union can do for LGBT members > getting LGBT members involved in all aspects of trade union campaigning and negotiations > giving confidence that issues relating to LGBT members are included in union activities > getting LGBT members to become union reps or encouraging them to fill other union roles > raising LGBT issues with employers. Knowing where to start in raising the profile of LGBT issues can be daunting. One useful starting point may be to compile and send a questionnaire to all union members about LGBT issues (see Sample questionnaire, Appendix A). It is important that this questionnaire goes to all members, as it may be some time before LGBT members will feel confident enough to become fully involved in union activity. You also need to be careful about making any assumption about who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. So: > Target all members if you are sending out a questionnaire or informing members of a local campaign. > Organise discussion circles or TUC training courses for all members to raise awareness.

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> Publicise what the union is doing for its members on LGBT issues. > Identify a branch officer or establish an equality post to be the contact for LGBT members. LGBT members must always feel sure that their confidentiality will be maintained.

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Workplace organisation


to help you: > start discussions in your workplace/union branch about how to organise locally for LGBT members > consider whether you need to look at additional structures for LGBT members.


In union groups: 1. Identify the structures that currently exist locally for LGBT members. 2. Does the union have specific posts nationally or regionally/locally for dealing with LGBT issues? If there are no structures or posts in place for LGBT members, how could you raise this as an issue within your union?

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


C H EC K L I ST  A more confident LGBT presence After your initial steps at raising the profile of LGBT issues at work and within your union branch, you may want to build on this presence. There are a number of steps you can take: > Encourage branch representatives or LGBT members to be available for one-to-one chats with other LGBT members so they can feel confident about the union. > Listen to your members. Find out how they want to be involved and what roles they might be interested in – do not assume they will only be interested in LGBT issues.

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> Negotiate time off for LGBT union activities. > Establish a trade union LGBT network across the branch or within the workplace so members can discuss issues as a group. > Encourage LGBT members to take a proactive role. > Check for members’ wider experiences – LGBT members may be active in the local trades council or as a school governor, for example. Make sure any expertise and knowledge is explored for the benefit of the union. Changing the culture of your workplace will take time, so you need to keep at it if change is going to happen for good.

LGBT structures in the TUC and unions TUC LGBT Committee The TUC LGBT Committee was established in 1988. It reports to the annual LGBT conference. It is responsible for ensuring that motions passed at conference and other issues important to LGBT members are acted upon by the TUC. There are 14 representatives nominated from TUC affiliated unions plus reserved seats for two trans members, two black members and two disabled members. It is chaired by a member of the General Council.

The role of the Committee The TUC, like many unions, has introduced measures into its structures to actively encourage more LGBT members. The Committee:

C A S E ST U DY Self organisation in UNISON UNISON has established structures at national, regional and local level to allow women, black members, disabled members and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members to meet together. It means that those who suffer discrimination have the opportunity to set the agenda along with experienced activists and officers who may have little or no direct experience of disadvantage. It also gives minority groups a voice and opportunity to build confidence in union participation at all levels.

> provides an LGBT perspective to issues > gives LGBT members an opportunity to meet and discuss issues > provides a focus to LGBT issues and ensures proposals and policy developments are carried through > shares best negotiating practice across the unions > encourages unions to create appropriate structures and policies to support LGBT members > gives a strong profile and confidence to LGBT members.


C A S E ST U DY Organising the Fire Brigades Union Stewart Brown, Executive Council Member, Gay and Lesbian Committee, Fire Brigades Union, recalls how her union organised itself for LGBT members. “It was ‘Well, the fire brigade has always been a white male culture, why are you trying to change it?’. You know, it’s a man’s job – that kind of attitude. If it’s a man’s job then there’s no place for women in the job, no place for blacks, and certainly none for gays. That’s the way society has been in this country; the police are the same and the army is the same. Employers and managers and people within the union want to modernise and get people to realise that society has changed.” This modernising involved a series of steps aimed at changing the status quo. > In 1993/4, a support group was formed in London by firefighters who felt they needed to network or talk about workplace LGBT issues. > Between 1994-1999, members campaigned hard within the union to get LGBT members represented in FBU structures and to get LGBT issues on the negotiating agenda. This involved extending the London network and setting up a confidential telephone number so people could get in touch in confidence. > 1999 saw the first gay and lesbian motion-based conference. Motions were passed onto the Executive Committee for consideration.

> In 1999 an Equal Opportunities Task Group comprising employers and employers’ organisations was established to look at equality and diversity issues. > In 2001 the Executive Committee brought forward a rule change to introduce the national gay and lesbian committee, national women’s committee and a national black and ethnic minority members committee into the main structure of the union. > In 2004 the Gay and Lesbian Committee secured a seat on the Executive Committee. On 19 January 2005, Stewart Brown was elected unopposed as the first Gay and Lesbian EC member. Stewart reflects on what has changed in the union and the successes of the long push towards equality: “It has been a long process, but I feel we are slowly changing people’s minds. We promote a positive image of gays in the fire service now – we’re at Pride events up and down the country, which basically says that it’s OK and cool to join the fire service as a gay man, lesbian or transsexual. “The successes have been getting the union on board – including branch officers. We’ve created a workplace environment where it is OK to come out at work and we’ve been able to tackle policy, harassment and bullying so that LGBT firefighters are now an accepted part of the workforce.” Includes excerpts from The Way we are now – gay and lesbian lives in the 21st Century, Edited by Ben Summerskill, 2006.


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to help you: > examine ways of recruiting and organising LGBT workers into the union > consider actions you could take to encourage LGBT workers to join the union.


In groups: 1. Make a list of things you could do to encourage LGBT workers to join the union. 2. Discuss how you could encourage LGBT members to become active and have a voice in the workplace/branch and the union nationally. 3. Discuss how you could promote LGBT activities and information within the union.

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.

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L E S B I A N , G AY A N D B I S E X UA L R I G H T S AT WO R K This chapter covers lesbian, gay and bisexual rights at work. Many of the negotiating points cover trans members as well. Rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual members have improved enormously over the past 10 years. The following statement was adopted at a conference hosted by the TUC in 1999. It has since become the basis for legislation to outlaw discrimination against lesbian and gay men: “The objective is legislation to establish the principle of equal treatment for lesbians, gays and bisexuals. This will be provided by: > Outlawing discrimination (direct or indirect) on the grounds of actual or supposed sexuality, lifestyle and/or relationships in employment (paid or unpaid), training and education. Similarly in the provision of goods, facilities and services, the disposal or management or premises and in all dealings between the citizen, the state and public authorities; > Prohibiting harassment in employment, training and education, and the provision of goods, facilities and services, on the grounds of sexuality, lifestyle and/or relationships; > Providing effective protection against victimisation of anyone claiming their rights under this law; > Ensuring that the ‘burden of proof’ in cases should meet the requirements of the EC Council Directive on Burden of Proof;

> Providing an effective means for individuals to secure their rights under this law (that is, through a body with equivalent to those of other discrimination Commissions); > Enabling complaints under this law to be brought before an employment tribunal, with the same time limits and procedures as apply to other discrimination cases and with the same range of remedies.” In 2003, the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 became the first law to deal with sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.

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Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker because of their sexuality. The regulations cover recruitment, terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and training. Sexual orientation is defined as: > orientation towards persons of the same sex > orientation towards persons of the opposite sex > orientation towards persons of the same sex and the opposite sex. (see glossary, Appendix C) This means the law covers everyone, including heterosexual members. It also includes members “through association” – that is, those who are discriminated against because of a connection with someone of any given sexual orientation. The regulations are similar to the laws on sex and race discrimination and cover direct and indirect discrimination, victimisation and harassment.

Direct discrimination An employer cannot, on the grounds of sexual orientation: > > > >

refuse to employ someone dismiss someone refuse access to training or promotion deny to lesbian, gay or bisexual workers benefits, services or facilities that are offered to heterosexual workers.

Example: While being interviewed, a job applicant says she has a same-sex partner. Although she has all the skills and competences required, the organisation decides not to offer her the job because she is a lesbian. This is direct discrimination. Direct discrimination also includes discrimination on the grounds of perceived sexual orientation – whether the perception is correct or not. So if the applicant in the above example had not referred to her partner but was assumed to be a lesbian for other reasons, and as a result was not offered the job, this would still be direct discrimination.

Indirect discrimination An employer cannot set a requirement or condition that may be difficult for people of a particular sexual orientation to meet. Indirect discrimination is unlawful, whether it is intentional or not. Preferential treatment relating to married people in recruitment and promotion is likely to attract a claim of indirect discrimination. However, unlike direct discrimination, employers can justify it legally if they can show it is a proportionate means of meeting a real business need. For example, benefits relating to children are potentially open to challenge, since although LGB people can and do have children, they are

All examples from ACAS Sexual orientation and the workplace – putting the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 into practice.


statistically less likely to than heterosexual people. However, such challenges would be subject to the defence of justification on grounds of business need. Since December 2003 a number of indirect discrimination cases have been upheld under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. These include: Example: A gay office manager who claimed constructive dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation. He won £35,000 at an employment tribunal at which he said his sales manager continually referred to his sexuality and once phoned him saying: “Just a queer word – err, I mean just a quick word”, and that he was taunted as a “queen” for ordering a cocktail. Example: A gay man who resigned from his job after finding out that he had been the subject of a homophobic remark from a colleague. In his claim for unfair dismissal and harassment, he told an employment tribunal that his dignity had been violated. The tribunal held that the term used was “exceptionally offensive” and awarded the claimant nearly £10,000 in compensation. Example: A lesbian who was dismissed for using a computer to send explicit emails to her lesbian lover won her claim for unfair dismissal. An employment tribunal heard that she was fired because she had let her standard of work

slip because of her “excessive” email use, which the company said constituted gross misconduct. The woman claimed she was unfairly dismissed. The tribunal awarded her £26,245 for unfair dismissal and said the firm had “grossly overstated” the problem and that she should have been warned over her email use instead of sacked. Example: A gay man who was repeatedly referred to as “gay boy” by his manager had his claim for unfair and constructive dismissal upheld. The tribunal commented that “it is hard to envisage conduct more likely to shatter the trust and confidence of an employee in his employer” and the employer had “signally failed in its duty to an employee who has been bullied and harassed, contrary to their own express policies.” The employer and the harasser were both found by the tribunal to have breached the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Victimisation An employer cannot victimise someone because they have made a complaint of discrimination or supported someone else’s complaint. Example: A worker gives evidence for a colleague who has brought an employment tribunal claim against the organisation of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. When the worker applies for promotion her application is rejected – even

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though she has all the necessary skills and experience. Her manager maintains she is a troublemaker because she has given evidence at the tribunal and therefore should not be promoted. This would be victimisation.

Bullying and harassment An employer must protect workers from bullying or harassment because of sexual orientation. This includes behaviour that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. Organisations may be held responsible for their staff if harassment takes place somewhere that is associated with work, like a staff social gathering. Employers should also protect their staff from harassment by third parties such as service users and customers. Example: A male worker who has a same-sex partner is continually referred to by female nicknames, which he finds humiliating and distressing. This is harassment. Example: A male supermarket worker is taunted by a member of the public because of his ‘gay’ mannerisms while working at the till. Even though the member of the public is not a colleague, it is still harassment.

Genuine occupational requirement An employer must be able to show that there is a “genuine occupational requirement” for discriminating against certain groups. Example: An organisation advising on and promoting lesbian and gay rights may be able to show that it is essential to its credibility that its chief executive – who will be the public face of the organisation – is lesbian or gay. The sexual orientation of the holder of the post may therefore be a genuine occupational requirement.

Religious exemption An employer can decide not to recruit someone, or to terminate someone’s employment, on the basis of their sexual orientation where the employment is “for purposes of an organised religion” and the employer takes such action in order to comply with the doctrines of the religion or “to avoid conflicting with strongly held views of a significant number of the religious followers”. The High Court has ruled that this exemption should be applied in its narrowest sense, for example, to ministers of religion.

Positive action The regulations make it legal for employers and trade associations (including trade unions) to take steps to offer people particular work or training if this will make up for previous disadvantage. For example, it might be legal for a trade union to provide training specifically for LGB members to take part in some union activity.


Case law So far relatively few tribunal cases have been completed under the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. Some of those that have been completed showed that tribunal members found it a difficult area. This may make lesbian and gay members feel the law is still not on their side. Also, to use the regulations a member would have to be confidently ‘out’ and would have to have exhausted all internal procedures, which in itself is a barrier to making a complaint. Although many negotiating points may cover trans workers as well, the regulations do not protect trans workers from discrimination (unless the discrimination is on grounds of their sexual orientation). See Chaper 9, Trans people at work, for details of laws and regulations relating to this group of workers.

C H EC K L I ST  The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 An employer cannot, on the grounds of sexual orientation: > refuse to consider anyone for employment > refuse to offer anyone employment > offer employment on less favourable terms > refuse to make provision for anyone to be trained > refuse to promote anyone > give less favourable benefits for anyone > dismiss anyone.

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Sexual orientation – case studies Case study one Jo was the only ‘out’ lesbian in the college catering team. She was determined not to be made to feel invisible by others’ attitudes and talked about her partner and lesbian and gay friends. Other staff – including some other union members – made it clear they didn’t want to hear about her private life and complained to the manager. The manager told Jo she was too political and should talk less about her private life, as good team working was essential to getting the job done. Jo approached her local rep for help and advice.

knew this would show up an old ‘gross indecency’ conviction – a charge used exclusively against gay men having consensual sex, which had no heterosexual equivalent. He was deeply concerned about having to deal with people’s prejudice and ignorance about so-called ‘gross indecency’. He was also worried it would count against him and he would not even be considered for the job.

Case study four Lisa’s partner Collette was expecting a baby. Lisa – a children and families social worker – wanted to apply for maternity support leave but she was not ‘out’ at work.

Case study two Ranjit, a nursery nurse, was featured in a positive story in the local newspaper about the success of her lesbian football team. The next day, the parents of one of the children she worked with came storming in, calling her unpleasant names, saying she was unsuitable to work with children and demanding that she be sacked. Her manager calmed them down by assuring them she would be moved away from direct contact with the children, explaining privately to Ranjit that this was just a ‘temporary’ measure until the storm passed. Ranjit was not happy about this.

Case study five Jim had lived with his partner Rob for many years, but was not ‘out’ at the call centre where he worked. Rob’s mother became increasingly frail and dependent on them. Jim used all his annual leave caring for her and started taking odd days of sick leave. He was increasingly stressed by the whole situation and his call rate kept falling below target. He was asked to visit his manager.

See Appendix B for suggested solutions

Case study three Karl wanted to apply for a promotional post in the finance department but this meant agreeing to a Criminal Records Bureau ‘Standard Disclosure’. He

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activit y 7

Discrimination – Case studies


to help you > understand what is meant by sexual orientation > consider your response to workplace issues.


In groups: > You will be allocated two case studies from the list opposite. Discuss the case studies and consider how you would respond to these situations. List your responses. These can be formal or informal.


Elect a member of the group to give your report to the rest of the course.

resources Sexual orientation – case studies (opposite)


Where to work? LGBT people will be very careful about where they work. If an employer or organisation is seen to have a hostile, macho or unwelcoming culture they will be cautious about seeking work there. The public and voluntary sector have generally been perceived to be more LGBT-friendly because campaigning groups and trade unions were successful at getting equal opportunities polices to include sexual orientation and gender identity during the 1980s and 90s. Progress was stalled by Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988), which made it illegal for local authorities to “intentionally promote homosexuality”. It created a difficult political climate for those trying to progress at work in local authorities, schools and voluntary sector organisations dealing with children and young people. Trade unions successfully campaigned for its repeal in 2003. The private sector has a more mixed picture; some companies have embraced diversity policies and procedures while others have been slow on the uptake. Since 1997, the expansion of equalities legislation has propelled many employers forward.

Workplace bargaining The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003 and the Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 give a solid basis for improving your workplace policies

and deciding your workplace bargaining agenda. Bargaining goals should cover: > > > > >

equal opportunities polices and statements recruitment and selection training and development opportunities family friendly and work/life balance policies sickness, absence, disciplinary and grievance procedures > monitoring > harassment and bullying (see Chapter 8, Harassment and Bullying).

Equal opportunities policies and statements The 2005 TUC Equalities Audit found that many equal opportunities polices did not specifically include LGBT employees. It is important that there is a clear statement which includes LGBT staff. Sexual orientation and gender identity should be explicitly mentioned.

An example inclusive equal opps statement “[Name of organisation] is an equal opportunities employer and does not discriminate on grounds of gender, race, disability, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

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Recruitment and selection The whole recruitment process should make clear that the organisation is an equal opportunities employer and that it will not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and that all applicants are welcome.

Advertising and application forms The fact that your employer is an equal opportunities employer should be expressed in any adverts and on subsequent employment documents, including application packs and forms.

Interviews Questions at interview should concentrate solely on the person’s ability to do the job and avoid anything to do with personal matters.

Training, development and career opportunities Ensure that these opportunities are open to everyone.

Monitoring There are some workers who are open about their sexuality or gender identity and are happy to be so. There are others who, for any number of reasons, will choose not to be ‘out’ at work. This may be because they want to keep their private life separate – as many ‘straight’ workers do – or because they have had negative experiences in the past. LGBT members will also have very different views on the relevance of their sexual preference to their work, which raises issues around monitoring.

Whatever their reasons, not everyone wants to come out at work and that wish must be respected. The law does not make it obligatory to monitor sexual orientation or gender identity so there is no requirement to do so. Often workplace monitoring is carried out without any clear idea what the information collected is going to be used for. If nothing changes for the better then workers will be reluctant to participate and give personal information to their employer. The TUC advice on monitoring is that the LGBT position is different from race or gender and monitoring should be undertaken, if, and only if, the basic principles below are established. If monitoring is to take place: > there must be a full LGBT equality policy already in place, and action to implement it > everyone should be clear why monitoring for sexual orientation and gender identity is being carried out and what will be done with the results > there should have been a process of consultation on, and explanation of, the first two principles prior to completion of the plan and implementation > there should be a guarantee of confidentiality. There is more detailed guidance in the TUC guide LGBT Equality in the Workplace, see The TUC recommends that monitoring staff for sexuality or gender identity be treated with particular sensitivity or it will fail to produce any useful results.


activit y 8

Equal opportunities policies and work/life balance


to help you: > identify gaps in equal opportunities policies > consider how you can ensure that the needs of all members are met through these policies.


Look at your equal opportunities policy or another policy and identify which groups are not covered by the agreement. Find out what your employer provides for employees: > on parental and carer leave > on sick leave > who work flexible hours. Then discuss the following > > > > >

Are these conditions available for everyone? How will you negotiate to ensure all groups are included? What arguments would you use? What legislation is available to assist? Will individuals have the confidence to ask their managers for leave?

report Be prepared to report back to the rest of the group.

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WO R K / L I F E B A L A N C E Family issues Today, family structures take many forms. LGBT members may have children as single people or as part of a lesbian or gay relationship. They may have adopted, fostered or had their own biological children. LGBT members may also have other caring responsibilities – such as for relatives or friends. New family structures may not be reflected in employers’ policies to family issues. It can be good practice to tackle some family related issues as ‘equality issues’, as problems arising from non-recognition of same-sex families often also affect straight workers with nontraditional families. Make sure that all work/life balance policies respect the different lives that people lead. For example, everyone needs to take special leave at some time in their working life – to look after an ill partner or child, or to cope with bereavement. It becomes difficult if decisions over special leave are left to the discretion of a local manager and LGBT members are left to negotiate time off at a stressful time. Negotiating a carers’ agreement, which provides for a number of days off per year for all workers in an organisation, makes taking leave in times of emergency easier and less stressful for everyone. Parental leave, dependance leave and childcare arrangements should cover all parents – regardless of their living arrangements, gender identity or sexuality.

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Flexible working, part-time working and jobsharing should also be equally available for all those with responsibilities for children.

C H EC K L I ST Non-traditional families

Remember many people no longer live in traditional family set-ups, so getting agreement on family issues for all workers is good for everyone. > Look at national or other employer agreements to identify best practice. > Get a commitment to equality from your employer at the start, alongside a commitment to discuss LGBT issues. > Make sure the equal opportunities policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity. > Look at all policies and ensure sexual orientation and gender identity is included. > Make sure any harassment policy covers sexual orientation and trans workers. > Ensure family-friendly polices cover ALL families. > Assess the impact of relevant policies with LGBT members’ networks, if they exist.

The Disability Discrimination Act and HIV Every day millions of workers around the world face stigma and discrimination at work because they have been diagnosed as HIV positive. Many lose their jobs. Some go on to lose their homes, families and friends. There are more than 58,000 people living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in the UK. The condition weakens the body’s immune system and can progress to AIDS (a cluster of potentially fatal illnesses). Although HIV cannot be cured, it can be effectively treated so that HIV may not progress to AIDS. HIV cannot be transmitted through normal work or social contact, for example through shaking hands, using toilet seats or sharing cutlery or cups. HIV/Aids is not only a lesbian, gay or bisexual issue, although ignorance and prejudice about the illness has often made it appear so. People living with HIV or who are thought to have HIV can be subjected to harassment, abuse or discrimination. This can be fuelled by ignorance about how HIV is transmitted or prejudice against the two groups most affected in the UK – gay men and Black Africans – by linking HIV with homophobia, racism or anti-immigration sentiment. Whatever the cause, HIV-related discrimination at work is not only wrong; it is unlawful.

– from the moment of diagnosis. People living with HIV are also protected against unfair dismissal and/or discrimination in recruitment, promotion, training and benefits. Employers must take steps to prevent harassment or discrimination by others or colleagues in the workplace. Employees do not have to declare their HIV status unless they are health workers doing ‘invasive procedures’. Employers have a duty to combat ignorance and prejudice about HIV/AIDS and not merely treat it as a health and safety issue. A more detailed leaflet jointly produced with the National AIDS Trust is available at


> Help fight discrimination and challenge prejudice and attitudes. > Support HIV positive members when requesting adjustments to their working practices, which is a right under the DDA. > Ensure members get the right advice on pension and retirement options if this becomes necessary.

HIV and the law The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 (DDA) means that people living with HIV are protected from discrimination in employment, trade union membership and the provision of goods and services – including letting and selling of property


Civil partnerships The Civil Partnership Act (2005) creates rights equivalent to marriage so that same-sex couples can register their relationship as a civil partnership. This is an exciting legal change that means lesbians and gay men can now not only have their relationship legally recognised, but they can celebrate it with friends and family. It is important to emphasise that these legal rights only apply to those who officially register their partnership at a civil ceremony witnessed by a registrar. Couples who do not go through this ceremony – whether they are heterosexual or same-sex – do not gain the benefits of the legal rights. Those undertaking a civil partnership are entitled to: > take their partner’s name > have the same rights as married heterosexuals under next-of-kin rights > rights in relation to their partner’s children > certain tax rights, including the same inheritance rights as married heterosexuals > new pension rights > selected new welfare benefits > the same perks and benefits at work as married couples (if an organisation allows an employee’s wife to drive the company car, they are now obliged to extend the same perk to the same-sex partner of an employee). New inheritance rights allow lesbian and gay partners to register a death and make them

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eligible to claim bereavement benefits, compensation in case of a fatal accident and give the right to stay in a shared rented home in the event of a partner’s death. The TUC campaigned to ensure equality in pension survivor benefits where there is an occupational pension scheme in place. The law provides for services to be backdated to 1988, the equivalent date for widow/widower’s pensions. This is now a legal obligation and all pension schemes that have not voluntarily made the necessary changes to their rules must do so, so that registered civil partners will become entitled to this benefit. The law extends to all those in contracted-out private pension schemes as well. In terms of trans rights and pensions, many pension schemes refuse to recognise change of gender at the point of transition. Instead they often insist on waiting until gender recognition occurs, at least two years after transition. Benefits paid will vary depending on legal sex and may even be based on a calculation in one sex for a period and another for a later period, causing confusion and propagating errors in calculating benefits. Same-sex partners will now be treated the same as heterosexual couples who live together in terms of welfare benefits. The TUC has published detailed guidance at

Strengthening civil partnerships Other legal changes that have impacted on the rights of same-sex couples include:

Other minority groups and discrimination

> The Adoption and Children Act 2002, which ensures that same-sex couples can adopt a child jointly (England and Wales only). One partner is entitled to take adoption leave and receive statutory adoption pay while the other is legally entitled to take paternity leave and pay. > The Housing Act, which equalised the rights of same-sex couples to succeed a tenancy.

The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the inquiry that followed has resulted in a duty being placed on public bodies to combat race discrimination and promote equality. Many public bodies have ensured the duty covers sexual orientation as well. This duty also applies in Northern Ireland, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, which were all founded with a commitment to promote equal opportunities. Disabled people experience discrimination in many areas of their lives, both at work and socially. Disabled LGBT people will often feel excluded or isolated – experiencing negative attitudes from non-disabled LGBT people or being unable to access clubs or social events. The Disability Discrimination Act aims to end this discrimination and protects disabled people in the areas of employment and the provision of goods, services and facilities. For more information see Appendix D, Resources and contacts. Public authorities now have a duty to implement a Disability Equality Scheme. This is to be followed in 2007 by the Gender Equality Scheme.

Barriers to services In accessing services – like schools, housing and healthcare – LGBT members may face hostility and prejudice. Here are some common examples: > Homophobia often means that lesbians and gay men delay seeking healthcare or choose not to disclose their sexuality to healthcare professionals. > It has been difficult for older lesbians and gay men in supported or residential housing having their relationship recognised and being treated as a couple. > Mortgage companies often ask gay applicants to undertake an HIV test. > Trans people may face difficulties accessing leisure services – such as the local swimming pool – if there are issues over changing rooms. > Most trans people have difficulty accessing health services and will frequently face GPs who refuse them as patients or fixate on their ‘transness’ at the expense of other issues.

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If the service a member works within treats LGBT service users differently then it is an indication that the workplace could be hostile to LGBT staff. Union reps must get a commitment from their employer that staff will be trained in the delivery of services to ALL members of the public.

Equality Act (2006) The Equality Act extends anti-discrimination laws to cover people facing unfair treatment in the provision of goods, facilities and services because of their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation means an individual’s sexual orientation towards: > people of the same sex (lesbian or gay) > people of the opposite sex (heterosexual) > people of both sexes (bisexual) The protection therefore applies to everyone – whatever their sexuality. The Act, which is intended to cover direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and victimisation, makes it unlawful for businesses or public functions to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. For example: > A hotel cannot refuse a same-sex couple a double room on the basis that it might cause offence to other customers. Certain services and activities are targeted at customers or users on the basis of their sexual orientation. For example, there are certain clubs, bars and travel clubs specifically aimed at the lesbian and gay market. This is not unlawful, as long as their services or products are made available to people of any orientation.

The TUC responded to the consultation by urging that services specifically targeted at LGB people, whether commercial or social, be maintained, as the LGB community continue to face widespread prejudice and discrimination. The TUC does not accept that activities of religious organisations should be exempt. However, it is not known whether the regulations will allow such exemptions until April 2007. The TUC has also lobbied for the regulations to cover trans people as well.

Equalities Commission The Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will create the first statutory body to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people’s rights. The Equal Opportunities Commission currently covers trans issues within its remit and this will transfer to the new body. The new Commission, which is expected to begin work in 2007, will promote equality for all in society as well as working to combat discrimination affecting specific groups. The Commission will cover the six strands of equality – age, disability, race, religion and belief, gender and sexual orientation, as well as human rights.


activit y 9

Challenging harassment and bullying


to help you: > identify homophobic bullying > consider ways of raising awareness of homophobic bullying and harassment.


In groups: 1. Identify how bullying and harassment against LGBT members might take place. > What could prevent LGBT members from seeking help from their union? > How can the union support LGBT members in your workplace? 2. Produce either a leaflet, advice sheet or a checklist on bullying and harrassment for union representatives. Identify what information you would include.

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


H A R A SS M E N T A N D B U L LY I N G Workplaces can be hostile places for LGBT staff. Harassment at work is still the most common negative experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans workers. Sexual orientation and gender identity is often missing from harassment policies. Harassment is one of the most serious issues for trade unions to tackle but one of the most difficult. Although the law now makes bullying and harassment unacceptable and illegal, all too often LGBT members will be accused of being oversensitive and lacking a sense of humour if

What constitutes homophobic bullying and harassment? UNISON’s Time is up for Harassment leaflet identifies a number of ways through which bullying and harassment can be experienced, including: > homophobic language, comments and jokes > asking intimate questions about someone’s personal or sexual life > assumptions that everyone is heterosexual > gossip and speculation about someone’s sexuality > offensive actions and physical attacks. > exclusion

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they challenge or complain about harassment and bullying. Bullying and harassment can include criticism, exclusion, isolation and a whole raft of intimidating and undermining tactics. It affects people’s health and their ability to do their job or attend work.

> homophobic comments – indirect and direct > physical and emotional intimidation. LGBT workers may hide their feelings by: > > > > >

avoidance ignoring remarks using humour hiding their emotions challenging prejudice head on.

Never suggest that a member: > is being too sensitive > does not have a sense of humour > has a chip on their shoulder.

The law and harassment A number of laws provide protection from harassment at work: The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003) give protection against discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations (1999) give protection against discrimination and harassment on the grounds of gender reassignment. The Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) places a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety

and welfare of all employees. This includes taking responsibility for the negligent acts of employees. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) created a criminal offence of “intentional harassment”. This occurs if a person has “intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress”. This includes: > using threatening, abusive or insulting language or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour; or > displaying any writing, sign, or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting so that another person feels harassment by his/her employer or colleagues.

Tackling harassment and bullying The crucial feature of any strategy to reduce the risk of bullying and harassment is an effective reporting procedure. Without this, the bullied or harassed person will not be confident that anything will be done to solve the problem.

Good practice on harassment and bullying should include: > A policy that defines and recognises bullying and harassment. It should explicitly refer to homophobia and transphobia. > A statement that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated.

> A confidential complaints procedure. This will enable people to make a complaint without fear of reprisal. > The complaints procedure having informal and formal procedures. > A facility for trade union representation at all stages of the procedure. > A commitment to publicity and training. > A clear statement to all service users that homophobia is not acceptable.


C H EC K L I ST Harassment and bullying

> Remind management of their legal obligations to maintain a safe and healthy workplace. > Harassment policies should include mention of harassment by service users. > Publicise any harassment policies widely. > Reporting incidents is essential, as is keeping the confidence of the bullied or harassed member. Confidential helplines offered by the employer can be a useful tool. > Providing support at every stage of the complaint is essential. > Inform members about what they should do if they witness or suffer bullying and harassment. > Make sure any harassment or bullying policy is monitored.

Domestic violence Domestic violence exists within same-sex relationships as much as in heterosexual ones and it is just as difficult to talk about. It affects job performance and security at work as well as people’s health, housing and economic security. Domestic violence towards trans people at the point of transition is high.

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Increasingly, employers are recognising that they have a responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees and are negotiating workplace agreements to support and assist those suffering domestic abuse. This makes domestic violence a trade union issue.

C H EC K L I ST Domestic violence

Ensure same-sex domestic violence is recognised as a serious potential issue. Workplace policies to support those suffering from it can include: > special paid or unpaid leave > offering information about local help and support > ensuring an employee’s confidentiality is protected if they raise the issue at work > raising awareness of domestic violence in the workplace and making sure everyone knows there is a workplace policy > providing emergency support through union or employer welfare schemes > ensuring that helplines and emergency numbers such as the local social services emergency duty team or local police contact numbers are displayed in the workplace.

Bullied children Children of lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans parents may be bullied. Young people who are perceived as being gay or who are gay can have a difficult time at school. The use of homophobic language to abuse is common. For example, saying someone is ‘gay’ is used to denote stupidity or being uncool. Bullying can cause permanent damage to young people and make school life unbearable. It affects everyone and it is important if your union organises within schools or if you have members with children at school that your influence is used to challenge bullying and demand anti-bullying campaigns.

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C H EC K L I ST Beating the bullies:

> Demand workplace policies that recognise the existence of homophobic/transphobic bullying. > Ask for staff training on dealing with homophobic/transphobic bullying and the issues that face lesbian, gay or trans pupils or those with LGBT parents. > Get involved as a school governor to influence the culture of the school. > Ensure recruitment policies are encouraging of LGBT school workers and that they can be comfortably ‘out’ as a role model in their working environment. Bullying of lesbian, gay and trans teachers by pupils also happens and should be recognised.

activit y 10

LGBT issues in the union and at work


to help you: > think about the kinds of LGBT issues you will raise at work and within your union > build confidence in dealing with LGBT concerns.


In groups: > Agree on an issue you would like to pursue within the union on behalf of LGBT members. > Identify steps you will need to take and who you will involve. Prepare your case for the > branch committee > a meeting with management.

report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


Hate crimes and the police In 2003 homophobic assault was first recognised as a “hate crime”. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) defines hate crime as “a crime where the perpetrator’s prejudice against any identifiable group of people is a factor in determining who is victimised”. Police forces in most parts of the country are now recording hate crime. Local authorities have a duty to work with the police to create crime reduction strategies for their area. They often invite local LGBT communities to participate in Community Safety Partnerships. The TUC is campaigning to ensure this is core practice. Transphobic crime is not covered and often not even recorded as a hate crime. Incitement to hatred is also still not explicitly covered. ACPO guidance on the Gender Recognition Act still fails to recognise that trans people mostly come into contact with the police as victims or witnesses. Homophobic and transphobic attacks are still commonplace and lesbian and gay men may still be reluctant to report them. Queer Bashing, Stonewell’s 1995 study of violence against lesbians and gay men in Britain, found that one in three gay men and one in four lesbians had experienced at least one violent attack during 1990-1995. Because of fear of becoming the victim of homophobic violence, 65 per cent of respondents always or sometimes avoided telling people they were gay. Fifty nine

66 h a r a s s m e n t a n d b u l l y i n g

per cent of respondents always or sometimes tried to avoid looking ‘obviously gay’. The problem is even worse for young lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. For those aged under 18, 48 per cent of respondents had experienced violence, 61 per cent had been harassed and an astonishing 90 per cent had experienced verbal abuse because of their sexuality. Breaking the Chain of Hate, a 1999 National Advisory Group survey that examined levels of homophobic crime and community confidence towards the police service, revealed that: > 66 per cent of the 2,500 respondents said they had been a victim of a homophobic incident; > only 18 per cent of all homophobic incidents were reported; and > 70 per cent were fearful of reporting future homophobic incidents. Reasons for not reporting such incidents included: > > > > >

a lack of confidence in the police anticipated negative reactions a fear of being charged with a gay offence a fear of being outed a fear of retribution.

A 2001 study, The Low Down, by GALOP, the London Gay and Lesbian Policing Group, found similarly high levels of violence and abuse against lesbian and gay black and minority ethnic groups. It discovered that: > 68 per cent had experienced homophobic abuse > 81 per cent had experienced racist abuse > 10 per cent had experienced homophobic violence > 24 per cent had experienced racist violence. Living in fear of attack will impact heavily on an individual and their ability to work. This makes it a campaigning issue for all trade unions.


T R A N S P EO P L E AT WO R K A trans person is someone who believes their gender is the wrong one and wants to change to live in the gender with which they identify. This may involve hormone treatment or surgery. It is called ‘gender reassignment’. There are only a small number of trans people in the UK (estimates suggest a figure of around 5,000) so many workplace representatives will be unfamiliar with trans issues. Recent legislation means that trans people are now able to gain legal recognition for their reassigned gender. They can have their birth certificate changed, which means they no longer have to disclose their gender history when applying for jobs. With insurance and pensions trans people still face discrimination. Pensions are exempt from the privacy provisions of the Gender Recognition Act and payments are often based in part on their former sex, while insurance is often withdrawn at the point of a claim if a trans history was not revealed when the individual took out their policy. Trans people often face discrimination when they change sex, so it is important that workplace representatives are confident with rights and regulations in this area. There are particular stages that most trans people will choose to go through before taking on their new gender. Although the timings of the various stages vary significantly between individuals, the transition will usually always have a great impact on their life at work.

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As part of their treatment, the individual begins to live as a member of the new gender and may have records changed to reflect this (such as driving licence and passport). This period is called the ‘real life experience’. It lasts for a minimum of one year. The individual will also be receiving hormonal therapy and may have regular reviews with a psychiatrist or psychologist. This period may then be followed by corrective surgery to complete transition to the new identity.

The legislation Sex Discrimination (gender reassignment) Regulations 1999 The Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 insert into the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 a provision that extends the Act to cover discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment in employment and vocational training. These regulations make it illegal to discriminate in employment and training on grounds of gender reassignment as a form of sex discrimination. The law protects those who “intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment”, thus specifically including people preparing for medical treatment. Legally, discrimination is defined in terms of the comparative treatment of a trans person and the treatment of “other person”, for whom “no gender reassignment exists”. The protection covers direct discrimination, victimisation and harassment in employment or training on grounds of gender reassignment. In limited circumstances it will not be unlawful to discriminate on grounds of gender reassignment, such as when: > a person’s sex is a Genuine Occupational Qualification for that job > the job involves the holder conducting intimate searches > the job involves the holder working in a private home and “reasonable objection” to them having the post can be shown.

These exceptions do not apply where a trans person is in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate (see below). Note: The ‘exception’ rule is complicated and union representatives should seek advice from their union office or legal department of their union.

Gender Recognition Act 2004 The Gender Recognition Act enables trans people to acquire full legal equality in their acquired gender. Anyone who obtains a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is entitled to have documentation changed to reflect their new gender, including their birth certificate. A person acquiring a GRC will be able to marry in their new gender or form a civil partnership with someone of the same sex. The Gender Recognition Act also includes new privacy rights. It is important to understand that anyone – including trade union representatives – who acquires information about someone’s trans status is liable to criminal proceedings if they pass that information onto a third party without the permission of the individual. This includes employers and union officials.

Workplace issues Changing gender involves a huge emotional change for the individual concerned and it is essential that the union branch supports any trans member who seeks its advice or support. Once again, confidentiality is key and working with the member will instil confidence and help them build a sense of control over the situation.


Ensuring a positive reaction from colleagues and the employer will be critical as the person goes through the stages of transition. The member may wish to move to a different workplace or job at the point of their change of gender. If they wish to move due to harassment or a lack of support, then that needs to be addressed first. (see Chapter 8, Harassment and bullying).

Support during transition and training of others, including service users Some staff and colleagues will need information about trans people generally. Others may need more specific information about the individual, depending on their role and work relationship with them. It is important that both employer and colleagues understand the issues facing the individual. You may want to organise a meeting to inform colleagues of the member’s gender change. The individual may wish to do this themself or they may wish to do it with your help. Of course, they may not want to do this at all; whatever, the trans person must be involved at all stages of the decision making process. No one has a right to be told about a person’s transition and a fine line needs to be observed between the privacy of the trans person and the obvious nature of such a transition at work. Involving the trans person in any communications should minimise difficulties. As a union rep you will need to access information on trans issues in case members raise queries with you. There are details in Appendix D, Resources and contacts, on finding further information. Encourage your employer to seek advice and

guidance from the specialist organisations also found in Appendix D.

Time off for treatment Time off for transition is essential. The length of time will vary from individual to individual. Trans people will also need to attend a Gender Identity Clinic before, during and after any surgery. This may involve travelling hundreds of miles (Manchester’s ‘local’ clinic is London). Negotiate this to be taken as special leave or treated in the same way as sickness absence.

Amending records and systems It is important that all personnel records refer to the member in their new gender identity. Make sure this happens when the trans person wants it to happen. Personnel records will need to be changed, as will security passes and entries in the internal telephone directory.

Changeover The point of transition is the expected point or phase when an individual changes their name, personal details and social gender. It is good practice for an employer with a dress code to allow flexibility during transition and to respect the individual’s wishes over when they are comfortable to change into the form of dress appropriate for their new gender. It is common for trans people to take a short time off work and return in their new name and gender role. Agreement also has to be reached on the use of toilets and changing facilities. It is important at this stage that colleagues are aware and understanding of gender transition as it is simple issues such as these that cause difficulties for trans people.


Harassment and confidentiality Trans people are extremely vulnerable to abuse and harassment so it is important that they are included in any harassment policy or statement. The employer and the trade union should be clear that harassment will not be tolerated (see Chapter 8, Harassment and bullying).

Pensions The GRC brings full gender recognition for pensions and other state benefits, but it may best to seek legal advice from your trade union on pension rights for trans members, as it can be a tricky area. For example, pensions are exempt from privacy provisions in the Gender Recognition Act and company pension benefits may partly be based on an individual’s former gender.

Disclosure and references Any reference to the person’s previous sex must only be made with the permission of the individual. This includes references and any information relating to pensions and insurance, which may need to refer to their previous gender identity.

Issues for the union > Make it clear harassment and abuse will not be tolerated. > Ensure anyone who has a role in advising and supporting the trans member is fully supported by the union and has access to training and information.

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> Union records should be changed where appropriate. > If asked, point the member in the direction of relevant support groups and information sources (see Appendix D, Resources and contacts).

C H EC K L I ST Trans people at work

> Gender identity and gender reassignment should be included in equal opportunities policies and practice. > Information should be provided on the surrounding issues, particularly harassment and abuse. > Push to develop clear procedures for members undergoing transition. > Workers undergoing gender reassignment are entitled to paid leave from work for specialist medical appointments and surgery. > When an individual has a new gender, all records should be changed and old records should be kept confidential or destroyed.

LG BT CO M M U N I T I E S WO R L DW I D E The legal and social situation for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and trans people is very different around the world. In some countries lesbians, gay men and bisexuals enjoy full protection from discrimination while in others homosexuality and transsexuality remain a crime punishable by death. According to Amnesty International at least 70 countries in the world have laws on their statute books prohibiting same-sex relations. (Crime of hate, conspiracy of silence. Torture and ill treatment based on sexual identity, 2001). The report states: “Around the world, lesbians, gay men and bisexual people are imprisoned under laws which police the bedroom and criminalise a kiss; they are tortured to extract confessions of ‘deviance’ and raped to ‘cure’ them; they are killed by ‘death squads’ in societies which view them as . . . disposable garbage.” Many countries that have apparently oppressive laws may in practice be less hostile towards lesbian and gay men than their laws suggest. In such countries, laws may be unenforced. In contrast, other countries, which lack formal laws banning same sex relations, may house cultures that are openly hostile to LGBT people and which persecute individuals by other means. For example, an Amnesty Report from 2005 found that police mistreatment of LGBT communities in the United States is “widespread and goes largely unchecked”. Across America LGBT people suffer “discrimination, entrapment and

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verbal abuse as well as brutal beatings and sexual assault” at the hands of the police (Labour Research, February 2006). LGBT people fleeing persecution often find it difficult to claim asylum if they have habitually hidden their sexuality. Although it is possible to claim asylum on the basis of being lesbian or gay, such claims are harder to substantiate where a person’s sexuality has been hidden. In February 2006 the TUC held a landmark conference that confirmed why trade union support is needed for LGBT communities around the world. Trade unionists recognise that the gains made in the UK must be replicated worldwide and the persecution of LGBT communities stopped. The conference heard personal stories from around the world and reinforced the view that LGBT rights worldwide are a trade union issue.

International support The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) is a worldwide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian and gay, bisexual and trans people everywhere. Founded in 1978, ILGA now has more

activit y 11

LGBT issues in the wider world


to help you > find out more about the position of LGBT people worldwide > use different information sources > involve others in promoting the position of LGBT people worldwide.


In small groups or pairs: 1. Look at the following websites: > > > 2. Prepare a short presentation or display to illustrate what you have found. 3. Discuss what else you could do to promote and publicise the position of LGBT people worldwide.

report Elect a member of the group to give your report to the rest of the group.

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than 400 member organisations with around 90 countries represented. The TUC and many British trade unions are affiliated (see for more). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) works to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US based non-profit, non-governmental organisation, IGLHRC affects their mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance (see Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people’s rights are also being recognised by major international human rights organisations. Amnesty International, for example, now considers people who are imprisoned for their sexuality or gender identity as ‘prisoners of conscience’ and closely monitors and campaigns against human rights violations against LGBT people. The biggest improvements in LGBT rights have been in Europe where the TUC works through the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) to lobby and campaign for improved rights. ETUC speaks with a single voice on behalf of workers in Europe. Its prime objective is to promote the European Social Model, which is about building a society that not only creates sustainable economic growth, but also works for ever-improving living and working conditions for all, alongside social protection and equal opportunities. Its current General Secretary is John Monks, ex-General Secretary of the TUC.

The TUC is also part of a the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (see, which has created a network for LGBT campaigns to help trade unionists put pressure on the International Labour Organisations and the UN Commission on Human Rights to adopt positive policies on lesbian and gay equality. Law changes that benefit LGBT people are increasingly the result of EU legislation. The European Convention on Human Rights provides a set of rights for individuals and countries that have signed it. There have been key cases taken to the European Court of Human Rights, the court which hears cases where individuals feel their rights have been violated under the convention. The European Convention on Human Rights is now incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. Cases taken include Sutherland v UK (1996), where it was found that the higher age of consent for gay men was discriminatory and violated a right to a private life. This resulted in an equal age of consent in the UK. The ban on lesbians and gay men serving in the military was lifted after a number of cases were taken to the European Court. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations came through European Union legislation – Article 13 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. The European Court of Justice also ruled in P v S and Cornwall County Council 1996 that discrimination against transsexual people contravened the European Equal Treatment Directive. This paved the way for changes in UK law.


Netherlands (1993) [1985]

Belgium (2003)

Canada (1996)

United Kingdom (2003) [2004]

Ireland (1998) Luxembourg (2003) Austria (2004) United States

France (2002)

Portugal Spain (1996) (1996) Gibraltar (2004) co oc or M

Mexico (2003) Antigua and Barbuda Belize

Costa Rica (1998) Panama (1975) [1975]

Dominica Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


Barbados Venezuela (1999)

Trinidad and Tobago Liberia



Chile 5)


78 l g b t c o m m u n i t i e s w o r l d w i d e



Finland (1995) Norway (1998) Sweden Estonia (2004) Denmark (1999) Lithuania (2005) (1996) [1972] Czech Republic (2001) Germany Poland Slovakia (2003) (2001) (2004) Hungary (2004) [1981] Slovenia (1998) Croatia (2003) Chechen Ita Romania (2000) [1996] ly Republic [19 (200 Bosnia-Herzegovina (2003) 82 3) Bulgaria (2004) ] Greece Kosovo in Serbia Montenegro (2003) (2005) Turkey [1998] Malta Lebanon Cyprus (2004) (2003) Iran Israel (1992) Algeria

an Om

Saudi-Arabia Eri



United Arab Emirates

Yemen Djibouti Marshall Islands










Togo Guinea





Japan [2004]

Säo Tomé and Príncipe


Solomon Islands

Bo tsw an a

Namibia (1992)

South Africa (1995) [2003]

Mo za mb iqu e



New Zealand (1995) [1995]

Countries where being convicted for consenting adult homosexual relations may lead to the death penalty. Countries which prohibit homosexual relations between consenting adults in private, both male and female. Countries which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment (dates in brackets). Countries which have laws that allow transsexuals who have gone through gender reassignment surgery to get their personal documents reflecting their new sex [dates in square brackets].


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Planning an event


to help you: > plan how to organise an event, either in your workplace or branch > consider how you would publicise the event.


In groups 1. Plan how you would organise a local LGBT event or contribute to a larger/national event. What steps would you take to organise the following: > > > >

a social event a union stall at a larger event a speaker to the branch another kind of event?

2. Who would you want to speak to/involve? How would you publicise the event? What assistance/information would you need from your union? report Agree who will give your group’s report to the rest of the course.


appendix a

Sample questionnaire Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) issues in the workplace The branch/workplace is circulating this questionnaire to all members to find out how the branch/workplace can support and involve lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans workers. We want all members to respond. All responses will be treated in the strictest confidence.

1. What do you think stops LGBT members joining the union? > the union is not LGBT friendly > lack of confidence that the union is dealing with the issues > the workplace culture makes it difficult to be ‘out’ > lack of knowledge about what the union does. > Other (please add) ........................................................................... ........................................................................... .......................................................................... ........................................................................... 2. What can the union/branch do to encourage LGBT workers to join? .............................................................................. .............................................................................. ........................................................................... ........................................................................... 3. What can the union/branch do to encourage LGBT members to become union representatives? .............................................................................. .............................................................................

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4. What issues do you think the union/branch should take forward for LGBT members? (Examples include: workplace bullying and harassment, family friendly policies, training and development and general awareness-raising with workers and management.) .............................................................................. .............................................................................. .............................................................................. .............................................................................. 5. The union/workplace reps are keen to raise awareness among union members of the issues facing LGBT members. Would you be interested in attending a workshop or a training day? Yes


For more information about your union, or to get involved, talk to: ......................................................

Thanks for answering the questions. Please return this questionnaire to: ....................................................................................

appendix b

Suggested solutions to case studies (page 46) Case study one Union reps arranged an informal meeting with Jo’s manager and pointed out that his action was unlawful discrimination because Jo had been subjected to different and less favourable treatment on the grounds of her sexual orientation. Other team members talked at length about their opposite sex partners and families. They also challenged the statement that Jo’s private life was ‘political’. The manager took the point and Jo did not feel the need to pursue formal grievance procedures. All agreed that this incident had highlighted the need for equality training on LGBT issues, including among union members, and both management and the branch took this up.

Case study two As with any other case where a service user behaves in an offensive or discriminatory way, the employer has a responsibility to support the member of staff and their ability to do the job to which they have been appointed. Her UNISON rep drew a parallel with comparable situations if a service user objected to an employee on grounds of race or gender. The manager was asked to put their position in writing (which could have provided evidence should recourse to the law have been necessary) but at this point the employer backed down. Wrong-footed, they agreed to display union posters in the nursery celebrating the diversity of families, including LGBT families.

Case study three Karl’s steward advised him that the organisation’s agreed policy on criminal records said that details of any criminal record should only be sought once a post has been offered and should not necessarily be a bar to appointment. He encouraged Karl to apply for the post and said that if the employer withdrew a job offer once they found

out about his conviction, the union would argue discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation as his conviction had arisen from an ‘offence’ which was used to criminalise gay men, which has now been removed from the statute book, and which does not have an impact on his ability to do the job. Karl got the job.

Case study four Lisa’s rep talked through with her how she wanted to handle the situation. The local government national agreement grants up to five days leave around the birth of a child to anyone nominated by a pregnant woman. Lisa did not have to say that Collete was her lover in order to claim the leave, but she knew that there was a chance the gossip mill would start. With the union’s support, Lisa decided she wanted to begin to come out in a controlled and limited way. She applied for the leave directly to the HR department, explaining the full circumstances. HR authorised the leave and informed her line manager that she was taking leave, without specifying the reasons, maintaining her confidentiality.

Case study five Jim’s steward was quick to realise that the disciplinary issue arose directly from his home situation. He explained that all employees have the right to take ‘a reasonable period of time’ off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. A dependent can be anyone who they normally care for so Jim could apply for dependent care leave without outing himself. He also discussed with Jim the pros and cons of coming out, at least in confidence to his manager. He suggested he might find things much easier if he did – but this had to be his own decision. He put him in touch with the nearest UNISON LGBT group for support.


appendix c

A useful glossary of LGBT terms Biphobia: prejudice against bisexual people Bisexual: a person who has sexual relationships with men and women Bullying: often used interchangeably with harassment but should be seen separately – offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, abuse or misuse of power with the intention of undermining, humiliating or denigrating the person Direct discrimination: when someone is treated less favourably than other workers e.g.: sacked for being a lesbian Diversity: is about recognising and valuing difference in its broadest sense. It is about creating a culture and practices that recognise, respect, value and harness difference for the benefit of everyone Equality: is about creating a fairer society where everyone can participate and feel included. It is mostly backed by legislation designed to address unfair discrimination based on a membership of a particular group Gender: sex of an individual, male or female, based on reproductive anatomy. Gender can also be expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, and as such is culturally determined Gender dysphoria: medical diagnosis of a consistent and overwhelming desire to live in the opposite gender to that assigned at birth

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Gender identity: the gender a person identifies with – not necessarily the one into which they were born Gender reassignment: the process of transitioning from the gender assigned at birth to the gender the person identifies with. This may involve medical or surgical procedures Gender Recognition Certificate: document that signifies full legal rights in acquired gender Harassment: unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of damaging a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive workplace environment Heterosexism: attitudes, behaviour and practices that assume everyone is heterosexual Heterosexual: person who experiences sexual attraction towards and responsiveness to members of the opposite sex (use the term ‘straight’ when talking to members) Homophobia: prejudice against lesbian and gay men and fear of same-sex attraction Homosexual: term for lesbians and gay men, rarely used by lesbians and gay men, but sometimes used in formal documents (use lesbian or gay when talking to members) Indirect discrimination: occurs where the effect of certain requirements, conditions or practices imposed by an employer has an adverse impact on one group, for example, requiring details of personal circumstances

Legal sex: the Gender Recognition Act 2004 means people can now apply to gain recognition of their change of gender for all legal purposes

Transition: the term for the point of change of gender role for a trans person. The point inevitably leads to ‘coming out’

Sexual orientation: an attraction towards persons of the same sex, the opposite sex or both sexes – lesbian/gay, straight or bisexual (use ‘sexuality’ when talking to members)

Transphobia: prejudice against trans people

To come out/be out: to be open about your own sexuality or gender identity To ‘out’ someone: to reveal another person’s sexuality or gender identity without their consent

Transsexual person: legal/medical term for someone who lives (or wishes to live) permanently in their ‘new’ gender Victimisation: a specific legal term to mean discrimination against a person because they have made a complaint about discrimination or supported another person’s complaint

Transgender person: a person who believes their gender identity is wrong


appendix d

Resources and contacts Trade unions The TUC publishes up-to-date information and guidance which can be downloaded from The most recent publication is LGBT Equality in the Workplace: a TUC Guide for Union negotiators on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues (2006). The TUC and Stonewall have published a free, basic guide to employment rights legislation, Discrimination at work: it’s so over. For problems at work call the TUC Know your rights line on 0870 600 4882 Rights at work, including LGBT rights, are explained on the TUC website For more about unionlearn / TUC Education courses, visit or contact your Regional Education Officer: Scotland Harry Cunningham 4th Floor, John Smith House 145-165 West Regent Street Glasgow G2 4RZ 0141 221 8545 Yorkshire and Humberside Trevor Sargison Friends Provident House 13/14 South Parade Leeds LS1 5QS 0113 242 9296

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Northern region Ian West 5th Floor, Commercial Union House 39 Pilgrim Street Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 6QE 0191 227 5572 North West region Pete Holland Suite 506-510, The Cotton Exchange Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9UD 0151 236 7678 Midlands Pete Try 24 Livery Street Birmingham B3 2PA 0121 236 4454 Southern and Eastern region Rob Hancock Congress House Great Russell Street London WC1B 3LS 020 7467 1369

Wales Julie Cook Transport House 1 Cathedral Road Cardiff CF11 9SD 029 2034 7010 South West region Marie Hughes Ground Floor, Church House Church Road, Filton Bristol BS34 7BD 0117 947 0521 Northern Ireland Committee - ICTU Clare Moore Congress House 3 Crescent Gardens Belfast BTT7 1NS 02890 247940

Labour Research Department 78 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8HF 020 7928 3649 Rights of Women 52 Featherstone Street London EC1Y 8RT London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (24 hours and gives information on other local lines): 020 7837 7324 Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights The Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights is a socialist society affiliated to the Labour Party. Members include trade unionists and members of the Labour Party. Events For a calendar of major LGBT events throughout the world check information.

Other organisations ACAS ACAS has a helpline, 08457 47 47 47, and publishes a guide for employers and employees. Stonewall (Lesbian and gay lobbying and campaigning group) 46-48 Grosvenor Gardens London SW1 0EB 020 7881 9440


Trans Rights Equal Opportunities Commission The Equal Opportunities Commission is a principal source of advice and guidance to the public on the Sex Discrimination Act that now includes advice and guidance on discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment. Overseas House Quay Street Manchester M3 3HN T 0161 833 9244 Press for Change Largest representative organisation for trans people in the UK. BM Network London WC1N 3XX

FTM Network A support organisation for people born female bodied who are transsexual or transgender and live permanently as men. BM Network London WC1N 3XX Helpline: 0161 432 1915 Gender Recognition Panel PO Box 6987 Leicester LE1 62X 0845 355 5155 The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Women and Equality Unit has published Gender Reassignment – a guide for employers.

Gender Trust BM Gender Trust Brighton BN1 3WR 07000 790347


Civil Partnerships

Domestic Violence

The DTI has published detailed guidance on civil partnership: Civil Partnership, legal recognition for same-sex couples from December 2005.

The only organisation in the UK dedicated to supporting people facing domestic violence in same-sex relationships is Broken Rainbow.

0845 001 0029 civilpartnership

0845 2604460.

Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate can help with issues concerning civil partnership with a partner from abroad. 0870 606 7766 Pensions: Benefits:

HIV National Aids Trust helpline 0800 567 123 (24 hours) Terrence Higgins Trust Helpline 0845 1221 200

Inland Revenue: General Registrar Office:

Religion IMAAM (Muslim LGBT group) 07849 170793 Lesbian and Gay Christians Helpline 020 7739 8134 Jewish Lesbian and Gay Group 020 8952 0137

Immigration UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group

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The TUC acknowledges with thanks the assistance of Helen Carr ( in developing this workbook. Unionlearn/TUC Education would also like to thank Maggie Foy for her contribution to this and to many other equal opportunities publications and course materials during her years with the TUC.

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96 o u t a t w o r k

A unionlearn/TUC Education workbook

Published by unionlearn Congress House London wc1b 3ls Tel 020 7079 6920 Fax 020 7079 6921 January 2007 isbn 978 1 85006 790 0 ÂŁ10 TUC member unions

Out at Work  

A unionlearn/TUC Education workbook on LGBT people in the workplace published in January 2007. This book is about the lives of lesbian, gay,...

Out at Work  

A unionlearn/TUC Education workbook on LGBT people in the workplace published in January 2007. This book is about the lives of lesbian, gay,...