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Taking Stock on Sexual Orientation

The Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee Consultation Paper

The UNISON Scotland Response


UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to this inquiry.

We are the largest trade union in Scotland and represent over 140,000 members. Since its inception, UNISON has enshrined within its rule book the principle of self organisation. Self Organisation is a key element of UNISON's strategy for achieving equality. It plays a vital role in enabling members who face discrimination to participate in the union. Successful implementation of the union's policies on equality depends on the fullest possible involvement of women, black members, disabled members and lesbian and gay members who have traditionally been under represented at all levels of the union.

Consequently, this response has been prepared by the UNISON Scotland's Lesbian and Gay Committee.

Experience of LGBT Communities in Scotland:

UNISON is of the view that it welcomes the achievements of the Scottish Parliament in the area of equalities and recognises the developments, to date, which have taken place.

UNISON would be looking for the Parliament to continue its good progress, where it has the power to do so, in reducing discrimination of the LGBT community both in terms of the criminal laws and also in the field of partnership rights. We appreciate the work of the Equality Unit in ensuring that legislation is appropriately equality proofed.

Provision of LGBT Aware Services:

UNISON calls for a positive agenda for public services which properly meets the needs of all LGBT users. We believe that the LGBT Community in Scotland are entitled to:-

  1. Recognition and celebration of their diversity UNISON believes that service providers must recognise that the lesbian and gay community covers a complete cross-section of society and respond to the full range of needs.
  2. Fairness at work UNISON believes that good employment practice and best practice in service delivery are two sides of the same coin - you can't offer quality services if you're not offering your staff a fair deal at work.
  3. A roof over their heads UNISON believes that safe and affordable housing should be available to everyone who wants and needs it; providers of housing should recognise and respond to the specific needs of lesbians and gay men.
  4. Care for their communities UNISON believes that lesbians and gay men and lesbian and gay carers must be able to access care services in confidence that their rights and dignity will be respected, and without fear of prejudice.
  5. Care in sickness and health UNISON believes that health care providers should ensure lesbians and gay men have access to services appropriate to their needs, without encountering prejudice or compromising their confidentiality.
  6. Learning without prejudice UNISON believes that all educaiton authorities and institutions should provide honest, non-judgemental information about lesbian and gay issues and take rigorous steps to tackle homophobic bullying.
  7. Equality of justice UNISON believes that lesbians and gay men are entitled to full equality of justice under the law and in the application of the law and that effective action must be taken to tackle homophobic hate crimes.
  8. Inclusion at leisure UNISON believes the local administration of arts, sport and leisure can make an enormous difference to the lives of lesbians and gay men and to breaking down barriers of prejudice if organised on the basis of inclusiveness.

Attached to this response is UNISON's agenda for change entitled "UNISON - Equality and Inclusion: A Public Services Agenda for Lesbians and Gay Men", which expands in more detail the main points of our submission.


We hope the committee will give serious consideration to this submission and would be happy to give further evidence if so required.

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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