Unite delegate Lorraine Mannion, speaking for the first time, addressed Congress in support of a motion on homophobic and transphobic hate crime on Wednesday (September 11).
She highlighted the trade union movement’s “proud heritage of solidarity for the oppressed in society – from the Battle of Cable Street to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign of today”.
“Today’s political landscape of hate and blame – which includes the growing threat of LGBT+phobia and hate crime – is designed to deflect blame from the real cause of misery endured by the working class onto those marginalised by society,” she added.
“This climate of hate emboldens those who would seek to reverse the progress made under the Equality Act 2010.”
Lorraine lambasted the government for its failure to bring in section 40 of the Equality Act on third party harassment, which, she explained, means “we are not protected by law, if a customer, client or contractor harasses us”.
“And, even if this section is reinstated we still have to be harassed three times before our employer is liable,” she added. “We live under a government whose policies increase discrimination and harassment and legitimise far-right ideology.”
She urged Congress that as trade unionists, we all “can and must tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime with a message of class unity.
“That’s why Unite feels it’s more important than ever the Conservative government’s vicious austerity policies are exposed,” Lorraine affirmed. “In this way we continue the leadership of the union movement in the fight for equality.”
Urging conference to support the motion, Lorraine concluded, “let’s celebrate what we have in common and respect our differences. Let’s reject hatred in favour of hope, because we are the many and those who seek to divide us are the few.”
The motion was carried.