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01 December 2003

Over a quarter of union reps deal with discrimination complaints related to sexual orientation
On the day that new laws come into place making it illegal for an employer to discriminate because of a worker's sexuality, a new survey of union branches by the Labour Research Department reveals more than a quarter of union reps (26%) reporting that they deal with complaints of harassment or discrimination relating to sexual orientation.

As a result of a new European law against discrimination, the British government has introduced the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, which become effective on 1 December 2003. For the very first time in the UK, there is legislation to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual workers against being treated less favourably than their heterosexual colleagues.

LRD's latest publication, Lesbian and gay workers' rights - an LRD guide, looks at the extent of discrimination, explains the requirements of the Employment Equality (Sexual orientation) Regulations 2003 and highlights union action on the issue.

The booklet also details the results of LRD's new survey of union branches which include:

  • exactly half of employers had taken some steps to address the issue of discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual employees;
  • over two-thirds (68%) of respondents to the survey reported that their union branch had taken, or intended to take, steps to ensure equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual workers; but
  • many union reps did not know whether employment conditions, for example, adoption or paternity leave, pensions or travel concessions, were available equally to gay employees or same-sex partners; and
  • the most common reason for union branches to take action on discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual workers was in response to encouragement from the union nationally (62% out of all those taking some action).
Notes to editors

1. Lesbian and gay workers' rights - an LRD guide is published by the Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF, price ?4.00 or ?10.50 for employers or commercial organisations. LRD booklets are also available on subscription at an annual cost of ?29.50 (?73.95 for employers/ commercial organisations). LRD publishes 10-11 booklets each year.

2. The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. Around 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.

3. For press enquiries on this booklet contact Tessa Wright on 020 7902 9817. To order copies of the booklet telephone 020 7928 3649.

4. Full information about all of LRD's services and publications is available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk.
 

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