Trade Unions call for LGBT Equality in the Workplace & Society

30 Nov 2016

LGBT Conference
Patricia McKeown, Owen Reidy, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Mary Ellen Campbell

Inaugural All-Island Trade Union LGBT Conference

Pics available here

Opening the inaugural Irish Congress of Trade Unions LGBT conference in Belfast on 30 November 2016, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell called for LGBT equality to be prioritised in workplaces and in society.

Speaking to delegates, the Deputy Lord Mayor said: “I am delighted to welcome this important conference to Belfast and I applaud the trade union movement for its proactive work on behalf of LGBT workers.”

Congress Assistant General Secretary, Owen Reidy and UNISON Regional Secretary, Patricia McKeown also addressed the conference.

Congress Equality Officer for Northern Ireland Clare Moore said : “We should be proud of the important strides which have been taken in relation to LGBT equality. However, research carried out by the Rainbow Project in 2011 showed that far too many lesbian, gay and bisexual people were still hiding their sexuality at their workplace for fear of being bullied or losing out in career opportunities. This is unfair and inefficient and why it is so important that trade unions continue work with employers to champion equality and diversity across all workplaces. Workplaces without fear means workers who are happier and more productive.

“Trade Unions are also campaigning for equal rights for LGB&T people in all aspects of their lives and this is why Congress is a member of the Love Equality campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland.”

David Joyce, Congress Equality Officer in the Republic added: “We are proud of positive the role that trade unions played in the succesful Marriage Equality campaign and will work to achieve marriage equality for all citizens in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Keynote speakers Grainne Healy (Director of the Yes Equality referendum campaign) and John O’Doherty (Love Equality Campaign) discussed lessons learned from the marriage equality campaign in the Republic of Ireland and how these might be applied to achieve marriage equality in Northern Ireland. A range of other speakers presented key issues for transgender workers as well as best practice in relation to promoting LGBT equality in every workplace. These included:

Diversity Champions – promoting LGBT equality in workplaces - Harriet Long, The Rainbow Project; 

Workplace Equality Index - Davin Roche, Director of Workplace Diversity, GLEN;

Transgender in the Workplace – key issues and challenges:

Gordon Grehan, TENI and Karen McDowell, FBU (Karen's full research is available here)

Workplace Gender Transition Guide available here

This was followed by a panel on Achieving LGBT Equality in the workplace and in our unions, featuring:

Fidelma Carolan, UNISON

Dáire Toner, NIPSA

Michala Lafferty, USDAW and

Martina Malone, Impact (Dublin City Council)

Conference concluded with a Session on Marriage Equality

Grainne Healy (one of the leaders of the Yes Equality campaign) spoke to Seamus Dooley about the lessons learnt from the approach in the 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum in the Republic of Ireland. John O'Doherty, Director of the Rainbow Project spoke about the work of the Love Equality Consortium in trying to achieve Marriage Equality in N. Ireland.