Received from: TUC LGBT+ Conference
The assault on two LGBT+ women in London brought public attention to the rising hostility towards LGBT+ community. Mainstream political parties are spouting hate speech with alarming frequency. Ann Widdecombe suggested science could provide ‘an answer’ to being gay. This view reinforces the prejudice that same sex attraction is an illness to be cured and that LGB people are somehow confused about their sexuality – prejudices that fuel hatred and violence against LGB people. Homophobic and transphobic views have direct consequences for LGBT people and communities as ‘hate speech’ is often the first step in the process towards actual violence.
Congress notes the ongoing threat to the safety of LGBT+ people in public spaces. We regret recent violent incidents against LGBT+ people on public transport, including the attack on Chris and Melania on a bus in Camden, and on LGBT+ people walking in the street in both Southampton and in Liverpool. We are aware that homophobic and transphobic attacks can swiftly escalate with fatal consequences.
Congress notes the unacceptable levels of hate speech used by both public figures and general society during the May 2019 European elections in the United Kingdom, with the LGBT+ community often finding themselves the target of hate speech. Homophobic and transphobic views expressed by public figures on public platforms embolden those who share their views to express them verbally and physically.
The imposition of austerity measures a decade ago created a myth of scarcity increasing socio-economic disparity. This scarcity myth and the division it engenders between communities has fomented a rise in hate crimes.
LGBT+ education is under threat akin to Section 28, affecting the safety and wellbeing of LGBT+ educators and a generation of LGBT+ young people.
Britain is becoming an increasingly hostile environment for LGBT+ people, especially for those at the intersections of marginalised communities. We need a movement against this growing culture of exclusion and division. Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, including stalking, harassment and violent assault, have more than doubled in England and Wales in five years and as most hate crimes go unreported these statistics hugely underestimate the true scale of violence.
Combating ‘hate speech’ or the negative stereotyping of minorities and vulnerable groups requires sustained and wide-ranging efforts, including strong equality and non-discrimination legislation and enforcement. In addition to legislation and enforcement, there is a requirement for LGBT+ activists and trade unionists to be equipped to call out and combat rising levels of hate speech.
Congress therefore calls on the TUC to:
i. lead an inclusive campaign engaging people around universal human rights,
increasing awareness of intersections between LGBT+ rights and the Black,
disabled workers’ and women’s movement, organising collective resistance to
the interconnected threats we all face
ii. ensure the voices of LGBT+ people are at the heart of its work to challenge hate speech and crime
iii. create campaigning resources enabling workers around the country to rapidly organise local protests in response to hate crime incidents
iv. explore ways to highlight the fact that LGBT workers still face significant
discrimination and violence
v. prioritise campaigning against the growing phenomena of homophobic
and transphobic hate crime in the coming year, and to develop initiatives to
promote awareness of how this seriously affects LGBT trade union members
both at work and in society
vi. campaign for a review of existing LGBT+ hate speech legislation and how this is applied.
Congress further instructs the TUC General Council to initiate a training programme, including a TUC LGBT+ leadership school that will develop future leaders, where LGBT+ trade union activists will have the opportunity for education and skills training and TUC LGBT+ activist education so they can promote positive initiatives on issues such as tackling hate crime within their own unions and in the wider movement and equip LGBT+ trade unionists to lead in combating hate speech.
TUC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender+ Conference