ASLEF at TUC LGBT+ Conference 2021
TUC LGBT+ Conference took place virtually 25-26 February 2021. ASLEF’s delegation carried over from the cancelled 2020 conference and was made up by Darran Brown (LGBT+RC Secretary, District 3), David Jones (LGBT+RC Chair, District 7), Graham O’Mara (elected lay member, District 6) and James Sutherland (elected Lay member, District 3). Darran Brown was re-elected to the TUC LGBT+ Committee as ASLEF’s representative and ASLEF’s motion was composited and passed.
Across both days the conference consisted of panel discussions, debates and fringe events.
Below is a summary of both days from ASLEF’s perspective.
Thursday 25th February
Conference began with an address from Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary) and opened up into a debate on the effects that the pandemic has had on LGBT+ workers.
The second debate of the day covered the unequal impact of Covid-19 on LGBT+ people’s mental health and James Sutherland made ASLEF’s intervention, stating that the increases in domestic violence, mental health issues, and isolation reported by LGBT+ organisations should not be ignored by governments.
The first day of conference concluded with two panel discussions in the evening. The first discussion covered Black Lives Matters and the LGBT+ community, speakers included Phyll Opoku-Gyimah (co-founder of UK Black Pride), Michelle Codrington-Rogers (NASUWT President) and Katlego Kolanyane-Kesupile (ARTivist, Educator and Performer)
The second discussion looked at international LGBT+ rights. Speakers included Dr S Chelvan (Head of Immigration and Public Law, 33 Bedford Row), Aderonke Apata (Founder of African Rainbow Family), Mariela Kohon (Senior International Officer, TUC) and Walmir Siqueira (Coordinator of the LGBT Collective of the CUT Brazil)
Friday 26th February
The second day of conference focused on trans and non-binary workers rights, featuring keynote speeches from Nancy Kelley (Chief Executive of Stonewall) and Charlotte Nichols MP (Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities)
Conference split the focus into two debates, the first debate covered demanding progressive change to the Gender Recognition Act and the second debate focused on supporting non-binary members at work. Darran Brown gave ASLEF’s intervention during the second section.
ASLEF in conjunction with the UCU, CWU and GMB hosted a fringe event in the evening looking at sex workers’ rights and LGBT+ equality. The event’s speakers included Nadia Whittmore MP, Dr Jo Grady (UCU General Secretary), Laura Watson (English Collective of Prostitutes), Lydia Caradonna (DeCrim Now) and Adeline Berry (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland).
The event covered some of the experiences of workers and the issues with current legislation as well as the importance of sex workers organising collectively to bring about positive change for all sex workers. The session offered an opportunity for the union movement to learn how it can collectively work to support sex workers and assist them in their aims to organise workers.