British Conservative government threatens LGBTQ rights

This video from the USA says about itself:

31 March 2015

Britain introduced an Equal Marriage Act last year that allowed same sex couples or civil unions to take place inside prisons. The first couple to utilize this new law is ironically a gay couple who is in prison for violent homophobic crimes.

By Peter Purton in Britain:

A victory for bad bosses: Tories toxic effect on LGBT rights

Thursday 25th June 2015

The equality gains of past decades are now gravely threatened by the election of a majority Conservative government, explains PETER PURTON

MORE than two hundred LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) trade unionists and union officers will gather for the 2015 TUC LGBT Conference today and tomorrow, knowing that it will be a challenge to protect recent advances towards equality.

Motions submitted by unions reflect many ongoing concerns and show that the battle for LGBT equality is far from won.

Hanging over the entire conference is the Conservative election victory. Alongside the threat to trade union rights, the new government is threatening the Human Rights Act and will “review” the public sector equality duty.

It’s a stark reminder that the same prime minister who legislated for same-sex marriage is also determined to reduce the already shrunken access to justice using courts and employment tribunals.

Bad bosses everywhere have welcomed the Conservative victory and the perception that equality is not so important. It has become harder and harder to exercise equality rights in workplaces and, combined with the clampdown on union facility time, harder for union representatives to play their proper part.

Those who oppose equality on religious grounds will continue to test the boundaries of the law, such as the bakers who are appealing against a judgement that they discriminated by refusing to bake a cake with a pro-same-sex marriage slogan.

Meanwhile the government continues to sit on the review of survivor pensions published a year ago. The injustice of a system that discriminates against same-sex survivors as well as widowers cannot be denied. The TUC campaign against it will feature at the conference and delegates will be encouraged to sign and circulate a petition.

The TUC has signed up to the manifesto produced by trans organisations calling for an overhaul of the current legislation and the abolition of the “spousal veto” that forces someone transitioning to go through divorce proceedings before obtaining a gender recognition certificate. That’s another case of being “not quite equal” yet.

The global picture for LGBT rights continues to be contradictory. Alongside further progress towards recognition reflected in the brilliant equal marriage referendum result in Ireland stands the refusal of Northern Ireland to shift on the issue.

There was a successful EuroPride march attracting thousands in Riga last week, but elsewhere governments have become ever-more oppressive. The Supreme Court will rule imminently on the legality of same-sex marriage in the US.

The bigotry and xenophobia that was unleashed in the 2015 election campaign is a threat to all equality groups, not just asylum-seekers and migrants. Prejudice does not respect boundaries and the reports published this week that expose the massive scale of hate crime against LGBT people confirms that the progress made in winning legal rights has not yet been converted into social acceptance of LGBT people as equals.

The evidence of the 2013 survey into workplace prejudice against LGB people confirmed that those thought to be LGB are two and a half times more likely to be bullied or harassed because of their sexuality, that managers and employers did not know how to respond — and most alarmingly, that many of the perpetrators deny they are being homophobic.

The conclusion from this finding is that social acceptance is sometimes only skin-deep.

We need a combined effort to strengthen trade union support for equality in the workplace and in negotiations with employers, alongside the integration of equality issues into the resistance to austerity.

This will be the message that trade unionists will present to the hundreds of thousands of people who take part in or watch London Pride the day after the conference: join us in the fight against austerity, join a union to secure your rights at work.

LGBT voluntary-sector organisations are struggling to survive in an age of austerity-fuelled cuts, and their ability to provide the expert services needed by the community is being curtailed. Reports confirm the extent of prejudice still faced by young LGBT people in particular, and homelessness and mental health feature among the conference motions.

Homophobia in education remains endemic and the government’s commitment to free schools and academies is making the task of promoting acceptance and equality through education — an essential starting point for changing social attitudes — even more of a challenge.

In the months to come, the TUC will also encourage grassroots campaigning against prejudice in football, the national sport.

The enemy of progress is complacency and too many people, inside and outside the LGBT communities, think the battle is won. As survey evidence and the election results show, that view is mistaken and the TUC LGBT Conference will be a forum for an alternative agenda of resistance and inclusion.

Peter Purton is TUC LGBT officer.

This video, recorded in Turkey, says about itself:

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) join picket in Istanbul

15 April 2015

Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) come across a construction workers‘ picket line when visiting Istanbul in Turkey.

In the spirit of the solidarity depicted in the true-life film ‘Pride’, they showed that international solidarity is alive and well today.

Original members of Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners will be leading the Birmingham Pride Parade this year with the Trade Unions on Saturday 23rd May 2015.

By Maria Exall in Britain:

Resisting the rise of pink capitalism

Thursday 25th June 2015

WE are meeting just after a general election with an emboldened Conservative government which, together with its big business backers, is determined to attack workers’ organisations.

The anti-union laws it has announced will massively limit our right to take effective industrial action, including the right to strike itself, and silence workers’ political voice through an “opt-in” process for union political funding.

There is an ideological war going on to undermine decent workplace terms and conditions and delegitimise workers’ organisations and their representatives.

On the diversity front, a battle is being waged concerning who truly defends the interests of LGBT workers. “Pink-friendly” corporations say to their LGBT workers: “Trust us, we can look after you — you don’t need trade unions. We are in the Stonewall top 100 employers and, see, we even sponsor Pride.”

But the reality in our workplaces is very different and this offensive of the pink capitalists will not succeed.

I would say that ‘pinkwashing capitalists‘ (compare ‘greenwashing’) is a better description than ‘pink capitalists’.

As LGBT workers we demand an end to bullying and discrimination and an acceptance of us in all our diversity — gay, bi, lesbian, trans. We know there is a long way to go, for LGBT workers are more than twice as likely to be bullied as straight workers, discrimination overt or covert is still rife and we are far from having workplaces that are safe and welcoming.

There is ongoing discrimination on survivor pension benefits, and on religious exemptions to equality legislation for LGBT people.

We demand an end to the Conservatives’ cuts in public services and repressive social policies such as further draconian welfare reforms affecting housing and provision of mental health services to vulnerable LGBT people.

We oppose their divisive policies, which threaten to stoke up intolerance and fear which will damage the social solidarity necessary to combat persisting homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in society.

We believe the representation of us as LGBT people in the media and in the entertainment industry is limited, patronising and tokenistic.

We see the Tory plans for more free schools and academies as undermining the advance of inclusive education and the challenging of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools and colleges.

We believe that the British government should promote LGBT rights worldwide. We are concerned that the tightening of border controls will affect LGBT asylum-seekers and encourage xenophobia and nationalism.

The narrowing of political debate in the run-up to and aftermath of the general election is having a corrosive effect on equality politics.

The Tories have always wanted to depoliticise the LGBT agenda and Pride because of their homophobic and transphobic record.

True LGBT freedom is at odds with the monopoly of corporate interests and the hegemony of pro-capitalist thought.

Barclays, Starbucks and Citibank cannot defend equality or the positive change we need to eliminate homophobia, biphobia and transphobia at work. Neither can campaigning groups in hoc to such corporate interests.

We need a democratic working-class LGBT politics to take forward the gains made in LGBT civil rights over the past few decades and make them real. We need a progressive trade union movement where the demands of LGBT workers are heard loud and clear.

It is a given for socialists that capitalist interests in Britain want to monopolise political debate and sideline alternative views, especially ones based on working-class people experience in all our diverse sexuality.

It is in this context that we have to view the recent behaviour of the Pride in London board. The priority they have given in this year’s march to corporate sponsors rather than the Pride heroes from Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners and the LGBT trade unionists is unfortunate. But this will not spoil our day.

We invite all trade unionists to come and join us in the LGBT trade union section of the parade and march proudly behind Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. It is solidarity that delivered our rights and it is solidarity that will deliver our liberation.

Pink capitalists have the money and the power. Their offensive is a challenge to us in the trade union movement. We need solidarity between LGBT and straight workers so they cannot divide and rule. Unity is strength.

Maria Exall is a member of the CWU and chair of the TUC LGBT Committee.

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