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The Stonewall riots took place nearly 55 years ago. They are often seen as the spark that ignited the drive for greater equality for LGBTQIA+ people across the globe and, while many had already been active in this space, it’s fair to say it was a substantial moment in our fight for recognition and equal treatment.
Since then, LGBTQIA+ equality has improved by leaps and bounds for many of us, both in our private lives and at work.
Unfortunately, many of the advancements are not enjoyed by all in the community and we have more work ahead of us to be seen, treated, and valued as equals, and to move from tolerance to acceptance.
We know that seven out of 10 LGBTQIA+ workers experience sexual harassment at work and that 66 per cent of those do not report that harassment. A quarter didn’t report being sexually harassed because it would have outed sexual orientation or gender identity.
Recent TUC-led, in-depth interviews with LGBTQIA+ workers found that although many interviewees reported seeing progress, they agreed homophobia and biphobia are by no means extinct in the workplace with many considering themselves fortunate when the very basic legal standards were met.
There was a worrying consensus among the interviewees that trans and non-binary staff face the greatest challenges in the workplace – and that progress on trans inclusion was actually going backwards.
This is why we must come together to stand up for each other’s rights and why the TUC has completed the UK’s first quantitatively representative research on LGBTQIA+ experiences at work. We need to know what’s happening to secure a brighter future.
Because it is a known fact that we cannot have true and full LGBTQIA+ liberation if anyone within the community is left behind and we know that inclusive workplace policies are necessary but not sufficient to create workplace change.
But that is what unions are for. We have the real and true potential to make sure every worker is treated fairly and has the chance to thrive at work and within society. And that’s my message to you this LGBTQIA+ History Month.
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