LGBT Conference Report 2011

The 2011 RMT LGBT Conference was held in Plymouth following a successful Young Member’s Conference a few months previously. There was a good turn out of delegates which made for an enjoyable social event the evening before the conference - and the local gay scene was very welcoming. One local gay pub held a quiz. The winning team consisted of four of our very own LGBT conference delegates who kindly donated the £20 prize to St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth.

The conference was welcomed by Phil Blalyk on behalf of General Secretary Bob Crow followed by a report from janine Booth the London Transport Region’s Executive Member. It was Janine who proposed the rule change for the inception of this committee and conference twelve years ago.

In Janine’s report she explained that full legal equality for homosexuals only exists in 8 countries in the world. In 80 countries homosexuality is still illegal. Of these five have the death penalty and a further two in parts still have a death penalty. Next year Janine wants to come back and be able to give a full report on how much we have achieved. Janine encouraged delegates to get active as homosexual abuse is still happening in workplaces and of course internationally.

There were six resolutions put forward this year. The first was that a question be put on RMT membership forms asking about members sexuality. Second was a proposal that the union be involved in recording and recognising the importance of LGBT history. In another resolution it was discussed that a DVD should be produced to make more members aware of the unions LGBT activities and events. A further resolution was to recognise and confront the ‘low level’ homophobia which is still commonplace in most workplaces. All of these resolutions were carried unanimously. Two resolutions were not carried. They were that the LGBT advisory get space in RMT news and the RMT website; both these resolutions were defeated as this is something we can do, we just need to provide material or request it.

The conference had two guest speakers. Annie Parker spoke on behalf oh the Eddystone Trust which provides HIV support and awareness in South West Devon and Somerset. Annie discussed why charities such as the Eddystone Trust are still important and relevant, how they try to prevent the spread of HIV and things individuals can do to protect themselves. It was suggested that Annie write an article for RMT News as this will go to a far wider audience, and her speech was well received.

There was also a speech from W Clarke who heads ‘Rainbow Rooms’. This charity see their role as a ‘signpost, facilitate and educate charity’. They have big plans for the future and are aiming to have centers across the country.

Alan Pottage of the RMT’s Organising Unit addressed the conference. Alan discussed how things have advanced in union and society so homophobia tends to now be under the surface. Alan stated that if we are not part of solution we are part of the problem. If you are a RMT rep you should tackle homophobia, racism etc. When you witness it you have to step in and challenge this and educate people. So over a period of time they will understand it’s not acceptable and change their behaviour. The Organising Unit then held workshops. The point of the workshops was to provide clear outcomes that we take forward after Plymouth. The workshops also investigated how to get more involved in existing campaigns and improve density when tackling new campaigns.

Next year's LGBT conference will take place in Southampton.

The conference was enjoyed by all of the delegates, with several motions going forward and a positive outlook for things that can be achieved over the year.