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Unions are flying the flag for equality

Unions are flying the flag for equality, diversity and dignity at work


On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), trade unions reaffirm their commitment to expressing solidarity through diversity: no discrimination, no exceptions. The ITUC celebrates the progress that has been made towards equality, inclusivity and diversity in our workplaces and our societies.

From South Africa to Norway, Uruguay to the Philippines and from the workplace to the international level, LGBTI+ workers and their unions have been raising the flag and making meaningful progress. They have been part of broader struggles for equality that have led to historic victories. Angola recently repealed laws criminalising homosexuality; Costa Rica ruled the ban against same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional and discriminatory; marriage equality laws have recently been adopted in Australia, Austria, Colombia, Finland and Germany .

“It is with pride that unions defend equality, diversity, dignity and basic respect at work and in our communities,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary. “No one should be denied work, harassed out of work, feel threatened or insecure at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“People like Nadine Rae – lesbian, mother and senior trade union leader – are the backbone of our movement,” commented Burrow in response to the nomination of Nadine Rae (of the UK and Ireland’s TSSA union) for the prestigious British LGBT+ Award. Rae has been a driving force behind the push to transform the UK’s rail industry into a safe and welcoming work environment for all (full story here).



Many challenges remain, however, with LGBTI+ communities targeted by hate crimes and discriminatory laws in over 70 countries. In eleven countries, homosexuality is still classified as a crime punishable by the death penalty. More than one in three LGBTI+ people report that they have been harassed or bullied at work and subjected to degrading language and behaviour. The rise of the far-right poses a threat of regression in many countries that were, until recently, at the forefront on LGBTI+ rights.

“Fears are being stoked, and that is bad news for us all. Reactionary political forces are manipulating deep-seated anger at the increasing income inequality and at the attacks on social welfare in such a way that demonises difference. Working people will not be divided by the politics of hate. We know that when we stand united, we stand strong,” concluded Burrow.

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