Trade union values mean standing in solidarity with LGBT+ workers

On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobiaday, we must put the trade union values of solidarity, mutuality and unity front and centre and stand in solidarity with LGBT+ workers.

Solidarity is a verb. But what does that really mean?

Solidarity requires that one enters into the situation of those with whom one is in solidarity. [It] means fighting at their side to transform the objective reality.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Sometimes, it means picketing with comrades on strike or defending a co-worker who is being targeted by the boss. It means passing the hat to buy groceries for a sick colleague and sending support to workers struggling in another country. It doesn’t recognise borders. Solidarity is seeing how much we are alike and celebrating our diversity. Solidarity is hugging a friend and marching with thousands against the austerity that’s unravelling our society. It’s educating ourselves about how the world really is and dreaming of what it should be.

And, it includes our LGBT+ comrades.

In every workplace, in every city and country, and in every trade union, LGBT+ workers are present. Whether they are visible, included or respected is really the question. Many PSI affiliates have worked over the years to create safe and welcoming spaces for their LGBT+ members. In some unions, LGBT+ workers have assumed strong leadership positions and transformed their workplaces. But, many trade unions are still constrained by social, cultural, political and religious considerations. They reflect an oppressive status quo. But, that is not what trade unions are really all about, is it?

When things aren’t right, we challenge the boss. We challenge the state. We push society toward progress and, we bring our members along with us. Trade unions can’t shrink from our duty to fairly represent LGBT+ members and advocate for their rights and needs. And, we shouldn’t shy away from being the necessary catalyst for social change when needed. We do the right thing.


Check out our message + statement for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Join our Twitter storm to highlight role of #tradeunions in fighting harassment and intolerance- get the materials here: