Around the UK there are many local umbrealla organisations representing the LGBT communities to bodies which should be addressing our needs such as local authorities, the unelected regional assemblies, health service providers. Ruth Black, Co-convenor of the West of Scotland LGBT Forum writes about the work of theirs; local bi groups may want to consider engaging with equivalent organisations in their area.
The West of Scotland LGBT Forum is an umbrella organisation which brings together organisations and groups representing lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people and their interests in the West of Scotland. The principal objectives of the Forum are to promote equal rights and equal participation for LGBT people in all walks of life, to provide facilities and opportunities in the interests of improving their quality of life and to promote community development. Most of the work is done by the member organisations, each of which retains its own identity and by the Forum’s partners in the statutory and voluntary sectors. The specific role of the Forum is to bring organisations and groups together in order to provide opportunities for networking, information exchange, cooperation, coordination and in appropriate cases, collective representation and action.
The Forum, formerly known as The West of Scotland Lesbian and Gay Forum, underwent a name change at its AGM this spring. Member organisations tabled a motion to include ‘bisexual’ and transgender’ in the title to make it more reflective of today’s LGBT community. The motion was carried unanimously. The LGBT community itself was formerly known as the ‘LGB’ community and has in more recent years incorporated ‘transgender’.
The bisexual community has often struggled with acceptance and a lack of visibility both within the LGBT and the wider community but latterly this has been addressed by an increased involvement from bisexual groups and joint working with organisations such as the Forum – leading to a better understanding of bisexual issues.
While both the bisexual and the transgender groups have played a large part in the development of the community, the bisexual community in particular have traditionally been on the sidelines of much of community life and the transgender community has been spending most of its time evolving. The transgender community is just beginning to form its own cohesive hub of activism which is crystallising into an exciting surge of energy, evident in a heightened community involvement and activism.
The West of Scotland LGBT Forum meets every six weeks and works with relevant statutory and voluntary bodies to exchange information, ensure equality and effect change where necessary. The Forum responds to consultations, informs on LGBT issues and commissions information provision. Membership of the Forum is by invitation to relevant organisations or individual co optees’ chosen by Forum members.