Standing together for LGBT equality

Elaine Duffy
Elaine Duffy

UNISON research carried out in 2013 and recently updated has found that LGBT members have been disproportionately hit by cuts. LGBT people are facing greater financial hardship, increased marginalisation and invisibility at the same time as specialised LGBT services are slashed.

UNISON will publicise the research findings as part of the union’s anti-austerity campaign focussing on its public service and equality values in the face of low pay, exploitation and division.

Scottish Electricity’s amendment highlighted the findings of the updated research which showed the increasing impact on LGBT people who have a greater need for services but whose specialist services are fighting for survival.

Moving the amendment, Elaine Duffy said that the research findings didn’t bring any great surprises “because our members had been telling us what was going on.

“And we know from our own bitter personal experience too. Not surprising, but pretty chilling nevertheless.”

Elaine said that because of prejudice and discrimination, LGBT people face worse outcomes in many areas of their lives, “from mental and physical health, safe and secure housing, financial stability, the experience of hate crime, the social networks that keep us safe into old age, and care when we become frail.”

This means that LGBT people have a particular reliance on public services but that greater need for public services is not matched by our needs being prioritised warned Elaine.

“You won’t read this in the research report itself, but one of the problems we had with this second round of research is that quite a few LGBT people couldn’t even get their heads around what an LGBT-focussed service would look like.

“That is one of the biggest changes since 2013 and a truly shocking indictment of the state of things,” slammed Elaine.

She reminded delegates that there was a time when specialist LGBT services were really gathering strength, building a network of knowledge and expertise with help-lines, advice centres, LGBT support networks, targeted health promotion, drop-in centres, LGBT youth groups, housing projects, specialist LGBT hate crime units.

“Much of this now gone through spending cuts – the expertise and resources ripped up and thrown away.

“But chilling as the research findings are, this is not a message of doom. We must use the findings to reject the politics of austerity. We must show young LGBT people – indeed show everyone – how things can be different.

“There’s a sense of change in the air,” said Elaine. “Let’s build on it and stand together for LGBT equality.”

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