Angela Montgomery, Assistant General Secretary reports on the LGBT+ Conference

The Conference opened with Maria Exall the first out LGBT+ President of the TUC welcoming all delegates telling them that she wanted the Conference to have an “atmosphere of learning”.

She made it clear that all delegates were on a journey and that using the correct language was important, but that getting it wrong was acceptable so long as everyone learnt from their mistakes and moved forward on their individual journey.

It was, she said, fundamental that all delegates felt safe and understood, and her words helped set the tone and were appreciated by all.

There were a number of new delegates and first-time speakers as well as long-standing committed activists. A successful networking event enabled positive contact between trade unions as well as a sharing of experience.

The struggles of our colleagues and trade union members in the workplace was distressing for us all to hear. To be discriminated against for simply being who they are and their treatment in the workplace by their colleagues, managers and members of the public is unacceptable.

Employers have a legal duty to protect LGBT+ employees from such discrimination in the workplace and the POA will support its members in ensuring that employers take this responsibility forward.

Trans issues were discussed, as were the challenges faced by those trade union members and measures that could be put in place to ensure a safe workplace.

The lack of compassion that some employers demonstrate to their LGBT+ employees and the experience of being discriminated against by colleagues and service users with no effective response should not shock us as trade union members; we in the POA will not tolerate this.

The Conference acknowledged the need for education and training in dismantling prejudiced views within the workplace and society as a whole. The POA would support the TUC in developing this. If any members are experiencing discrimination, please contact Joe Simpson who has responsibility for equality within the POA.

Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.