Over 200 equality activists from 31 trade unions met last week at the TUC’s annual LGBT conference to discuss combating homophobia and transphobia.
Delegates to this year’s conference were outraged at recent homophobic remarks made by Iris Robinson, MP for Strangford in Northern Ireland. Robinson was asked to comment on the savage beating of gay man, Stephen Scott.
Far from condemning the attack, she described homosexuality as “disgusting, nauseous, loathsome, shamefully wicked and vile” and urged gay people to “seek psychiatric treatment”.
An emergency motion from Unite (T&G section) and the University and College Union (UCU) demanded that she be reprimanded and forced to apologise.
Other motions condemned the appointment of Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance as a Commissioner to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the new equality body charged with devising a Human Rights Act and opposing hate crimes.
Delegates were angry that a bigot should be appointed to such a key role. Edwards is a known homophobe and his appointment is a slap in the face to LGBT equality.
This comes as another homophobe, Boris Johnson, has been elected as London mayor, and Nazi BNP member Richard Barnbrook has been elected to the London Assembly
These events have all caused alarm bells to be rung for LGBT people in the trade unions and beyond.
Delegates to the conference heard of the BNP’s threats to this year’s Stoke Pride event and to the principal of Barking and Dagenham College over the college’s support for the Love Music Hate Racism campaign.
The conference also decided that a wreath should be laid on Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the half a million LGBT people murdered by the Nazis in the concentration camps.
Other motions expressed widespread concerns about the extent to which Labour’s proposed Single Equality Bill (intended to unite all of Britain’s equality legislation into a single act) would strengthen LGBT rights.