As we begin LGBT History Month, Willie Docherty, the STUC’s LGBT+ Workers Committee Chair, reflects on the early days of the Committee.
In April 2011 the Scottish Trade Union movement met in Ayr racecourse for the 114th STUC Congress. During this meeting, a motion was passed with the view to setting up an LGBT Conference within the STUC. This was considered a timely move as there were thriving groups in place for all other equality strands, and while LGBT rights had come a long way in recent years, we were far from reaching the equality we desired and deserved.
As a result of this motion being passed a coordinating committee was set up with delegates from different affiliates, STUC staff and members of the General Council. It seemed like a huge task we were faced with – setting up a new group with a constitution and organising a conference.
And that is exactly what we did. In September 2012 the first STUC LGBT+ Conference took place in the STUC offices in Woodlands Road followed by dinner in the Lorne hotel. The numbers at this conference were relatively small, but there was certainly something in the air – here as the beginnings of a great thing for LGBT+ Trade Unionists in Scotland. One of the memories I have of that first Conference was the Chair, Agnes Tolmie, interrupting a guest speaker from London who was warning us against the Tories. Agnes stopped her and said “Excuse me doll, we don’t have Tories in Scotland…if you see a Tory here they are a tourist”. How things have changed!
And things have changed. This year we will celebrate the tenth STUC LGBT+ Conference. We have grown in numbers and in confidence over the years.
Over the years, our Committee has been involved in many campaigns to advance the rights of LGBT+ people including equal marriage, LGBT+ inclusive education and trans rights. We have had many valuable comrades in our ranks and on our committee. I was a member of that coordinating committee back in 2011 and in 2021 I am proud to still be a member of the committee and to be its Chair this year.
Why don’t you join us for our tenth conference in May and help us celebrate where we have come from? We have many more years and much work to do in the future. Help us to do it!