Unison set to debate action on bi issues

Unison’s annual LGBT Conference has published its motions today including several addressing bisexual inclusion.

The policy programme for debate has been released ahead of the two-day event in Harrogate this November.

The bi-focused motions include:

Conference applauds the work that was done by UNISON in developing the „How to
be a good trans ally‟ document, produced last year. The feedback on this document
has been extremely positive and has showcased UNISON‟s commitment to diversity
and inclusion, supporting all of its members.
Conference is aware that for many within the trans community, they are facing
unprecedented levels of hostility and this document contains much needed information, promoting support for our trans and non-binary siblings.
We do not wish to take anything away from the struggles of trans and non-binary
members, but as members of the bi community, we would find a document similar to
this, developed for the bi community, to be extremely useful in dispelling some of the myths about bi people and also a useful tool in gaining support from those who do not identify under the bi umbrella.
Members of the bi community face discrimination from straight and gay people alike and evidence suggest bi workers earn less than any other sexual orientation. They also report a lower satisfaction in life than any other sexual orientation. (Office for National Statistics 2017).
Biphobia is very different from homophobia. Often bi people are described as „not gay enough‟, „greedy‟ or „promiscuous‟. Bi erasure is a real threat and members of the bi community are often ignored or marginalised.
Conference therefore calls on the national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender committee to:
1. Acknowledge that a document of this nature would go a long way to supporting our bisexual members;
2. Raise the profile of biphobia by supporting the creation of a document to challenge discrimination of bi people within the workplace
Another motion reads:
We in the bi caucus have become aware of racism within our own bi community spaces. Stonewall have released research which shows the scale of racism that exists within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Britain.
Just over half of all Black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT people (51%) report experiencing discrimination or poor treatment within their local LGBT network because of their ethnicity. This number rises to three in five Black LGBT people (61%).
When we look at bi community spaces / events, both local and national, there tends to be a social disconnect between the reality that is being portrayed publicly and what is happening privately.
Black people are not feeling safe within the so-called safe spaces and as a consequence are not attending these events / spaces and this contributes to the erasure of Black bi people within our community.
This is something that needs to be addressed, both within our union and at events
that UNISON attends and has a presence at. We have a duty to call out racism when
we see it and take a stand at such events.
Conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:
1. Consult with the Black caucus to gain an understanding of the historical issues that Black bi people face when in bi community spaces;
2. Work with national Black members‟ committee (NBMC) to produce guidance on how to deal with both direct and indirect racism;
3. Work with national Black members‟ committee to produce guidance on how to be an ally and calling out racism when you see it.
And a third:
Conference can celebrate how far we‟ve come as a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, but sometimes in the bi community it can feel as if
we‟re slipping into obscurity again, and again.
Conference recognises that coming out can be wonderful, sometimes mundane,
often traumatic. What would happen if you had to come out again and again, a never-ending cycle of assessing whether it is appropriate, whether you‟ll be judged, condemned, or accepted? This is what it can mean to be bi.
The impact is that bisexual people suffer higher rates of anxiety and mental health issues than many of our counterparts in the LGBT community. Bi women are three times more likely to suffer from sexual assault than straight or lesbian women, and 60% more likely to develop an eating disorder. Bi men, especially Black bi men are demonised as vectors of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) transmission. Much of this can be attributed to the double discrimination we face. Bi visibility is an issue that is becoming all the more relevant as younger people embrace the freedom of non-categorisation. All the while it seems some of our LGBT community insist that bi people choose between being gay and being straight. If we want our union to remainrelevant in a young, queer world, it‟s time to recognise the value of bi visibility, andembrace it.
If conference is questioning how we achieve this, why not turn to those organisations
already working so hard in this area. Brenda Howard, the mother of „Pride‟ was an
out bi woman. While many prides appear to have forgotten their bi origins, Bi Pride
UK is still fighting. They are working hard with established prides, and smaller events to ensure that bi awareness is raised and stays on the agenda. They are creating safe bi spaces, providing training and resources, and speaking up. As an LGBT community we all benefit, demonstrating tolerance, inclusivity, and acceptance.
Conference therefore instructs the national LGBT committee to:
1. Work with Bi Pride UK to increase bi visibility at Pride events supported by UNISON, and to support the first Bi Pride UK event on 09 March 2019;
2. Develop a fact sheet on how to be a good bi ally, and how to combat bi erasure and biphobia, an d circulate it to branches and regional LGBT self organised groups (SOGs);
3. Provide support to branches and regional SOGs for Bi Visibility day on the 23rd September
To be clear, as they are so far only tabled for debate, none of the motions are yet Unison LGBT policy, let alone Unison policy as a whole. Next stop Harrogate!