In the spirit of educating, promoting and further advancing the rights of those in the LGBT community, the TUC hold an annual conference at Congress House in London. Aegis attended this years conference for the first time and were welcomed by a dynamic and prosperous TUC-LGBT community.
As expected, motions were tabled, debated and passed. There was a very positive and cohesive atmosphere with everyone involved having a collective responsibility to not only contribute to the conference but also to gain knowledge, experience and understanding of the issues raised. Most unexpected was the very personal and human element of the debating process. Individuals speaking to a chamber packed with delegates put forward their motions as articulately as any mover at any conference only they came with very personal and touching testimonials which not only framed their motions beautifully but added an element of understanding which might otherwise be missing from an ordinary motion.
One young woman bravely addressed Conference with the harrowing ordeal of growing up at the hands of a father who promised to kill her should she pursue the path of a transgender. Her spirit and tenacity saw her leave home to peruse her dreams of living life as the person she had always intended to be, that being herself. A standing ovation was the only way to see her off the stage, in tears but clearly strengthened having shared her ordeal and confident that those in attendance had taken a very important lesson from her story. Various other motions highlighted the intolerance faced by people in the LGBT community driven by ignorance, miseducation and the repercussions of this treatment which lead to various outcomes including homelessness, drug abuse, self harm and in the most extreme cases, suicide.
What this conference serves to do is not only highlight the difficulties faced by the LGBT community but also to celebrate the successes of past motions, the seeds of which have taken root in the mainstream social psyche. It may be odd to think, in this day and age, that an individual could lose their job for being, lets say, gay or transgender. Thanks to the hard work of the TUC, your friends, family and colleagues have the right to be themselves not only behind closed doors, but in every sphere of their every day lives. Individuals have the right to conduct themselves with pride and dignity without fear of repercussions such as the loss of their job or prison time for simply believing they have the right to live life the way they see fit.
The first motion to be addressed by Conference was the treatment of same sex couples at the hands of pension companies with regard to death benefit claims. In so many cases, the process of claiming death benefits upon the death of a same sex partner is prolonged, stressful and dehumanising. In too many instances, those experiencing one of the most difficult times of their lives, the loss of their partner, are made to feel like a second rate beggar. The motion to apply pressure on parliament to address legislation on same sex death benefit claims was passed. As the only financial industry Union in attendance, we see this as the perfect opportunity to take part in the debate, to watch with keen interest and to lend our strength where needed. Over the course of the conference, many seeds were planted and over the next year, will take root. To watch and nurture these seeds as they grow in strength will be all the more satisfying when we celebrate their successes in years to come, with the knowledge that we played our part in the positive shaping of the LGBT community and in turn, society itself.