RMT National LGBT members' Conference, 8th May 2009

Conference was held in Cardiff this year, particular thanks go to Cardiff Rail Branch for their superb welcome and hospitality. Thanks also for the well organised pre-conference social, well attended by both delegates and branch members alike.

In the absence of GS Bob Crow, who had an emergency meeting to attend, Peter Skelly, Relief Regional Organiser (South) opened conference. Peter welcomed us to Cardiff and gave a potted history of the strength of union activities in South Wales.

Having agreed 2008 minutes, we moved onto matters arising :

There was a robust discussion of communication issues. Delegates complained that it was not always easy to get info on LGBT events, either because it wasn’t passed on by Branch Secretaries or because to request it/show interest would potentially involve outing one’s self.

LGBT Reps course 25th/26th June, Doncaster
Conference felt this was an event well worth promoting and supporting, particularly as last year’s course was cancelled due to low numbers, possibly down to communication problems again.
An issue was raised that information on this event had not reached all branches/members.
Pat Wilkinson (Equality Officer), promised to circulate details to all interested parties.

Steve Skelly, Cardiff Rail Branch, gave an info-packed talk on the RMT Credit Union. He extolled it’s virtues and particularly recommending the Christmas and Summer saving clubs.

Ollie New of the Council of Executives spoke. He’d originally been charged with updating conference on the progress of last year’s resolutions. But since none had been passed he spoke about the forthcoming Euro elections, in particular about the No 2 EU campaign that RMT is involved in.

Derek Lennard of IDAHO, The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, spoke. This is the 17th May, each year, specifically because this was the day in 1990 when WHO (finally) took Homosexuality off of its’ list of Mental illnesses. Events take place on this day around the world. Derek also told conference of IDAHO’s campaign to get the UN to pass a resolution decriminalising Homosexuality. It’s still illegal in 81 of 195 countries worldwide.


Resolutions :

Two resolutions were submitted :

1) Stop Deportation of LGBT Foreign Nationals

Tfl No. 1 Branch

“Each year the UK deports Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people back to countries that are known to have regimes that commit human rights atrocities towards their LGBT citizens. Some such as Iran have publicly executed their LGBT citizens, often after horrendous state approved torture, rape and beatings. Recently two Iranian teenage boys aged 16 and 17 were tortured and then hanged as an example to others; followed by and 18 and 20 year old. Many other Gay, Lesbian and Bi people are forced by the Iranian state to choose between Gender re-assignment (often referred to as a sex-change) or execution.

As long as the UK deports LGBT people back to countries like Iran we all have a hand in the fate of people like the two boys mentioned above.

The deportation of yet another Iranian teen was deferred by Jacqui Smith earlier last year, following a public outcry and the issue having been raised in the European Parliament by Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party).

This conference requests the Council of Executives to :

a) Press the TUC to campaign against the PM Gordon Brown and the UK Government to stop deporting LGBT foreign nationals to countries that perpetrate human rights abuses towards LGBT people.

b) Ensure that our RMT parliamentary group raises these issues and helps prevent deportation of LGBT foreign nationals”

2) Proud Heritage – Addressing Nationwide Institutional Homphobia

Tfl No. 1 Branch

“We note that Proud Heritage was set up in 2005 to:

• research, develop and establish a national museum of LGBT memory, history and heritage;

• provide a mechanism to address the nationwide institutional homophobia that has led to a failure by archives, museums and galleries to collect or represent LGBT people and places over the decades;

• encourage creative partnerships between people and organisations of all types to afford equal respect to LGBT life and memory.

We note that Proud Heritage have worked with leading academics and museum professionals, grass roots groups and staff networks in developing expertise and ideas –and to help support independent initiatives.

We commend Proud Heritage’s aim in seeking to build a unique distributed national collection that will be held in public archives across the country and their newly developed online museum; as well as their highly successful exhibitions, such as the exhibition in London’s City Hall and jointly with Merseyside’s Maritime Museum, in their Hello Sailor – an exploration of ‘gay life on the ocean wave’.

We urge the national governing body of our union to support the publication of a tool kit for local authorities, community groups and trade unions – evidencing the institutional discrimination and unique cultural dimensions, and providing models for activity and action. By helping to sponsor the tool kit production the RMT would be helping to reach across the UK with a message that all lives and all experience deserves respect and remembrance.

We also urge the Council of Executives to work with Proud Heritage to develop a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to collect and record RMT members’ LGBT-related stories, to address the failure to collect this by many existing transport or railway museums.”

Both resolutions were passed unanimously.

Discussion of Prides

Conference felt that there was a strong need to get more people involved, and agreed that it was important to have a presence both on the March (with banner if possible) and to have a stall in Trafalgar Square (or other Pride Festival). It was noted that much more involvement by members was required to makes these events a success. In previous years some of LGBT committee had been unsupported and were not prepared to organise/attend events if there wasn’t additional support from members.

2010 Conference

There were no invitations received from branches to host this.

Belfast, Leeds and Blackpool were all nominated as possible venues, a vote ensued :

Belfast - 8 votes
Leeds - 6 votes
Blackpool - 2 votes

Belfast was chosen as next year’s venue, with the provisional date of 14th May at the Holiday Inn in Belfast, this is to coincide with the next biennial shipping grades conference which is occurring 12-14th May 2010 at the same hotel.

The new committee was elected :

Adrian Rowe - Chair
Joanne Parry - Committee member
Mark Beresford - Committee member

Conference closed at 1645 hrs.