Project: Creating safe and inclusive trade unions and workplaces free of homophobia

Creating safe and inclusive trade unions and workplaces free of homophobia

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Vision of the project

An environment that encourages individual change in consciousness and behaviours and promotes inclusive practices and policies for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) workers in working towards workplaces and trade unions free of homophobia. 

Mission of the project

To support Gender Coordinators in creating inclusive and safe spaces in the workplace and union where women, young people, people living with disabilities, migrant workers and LGBT workers feel free to claim and exercise their rights.

Problem statement 

The number of murders of self-identifying lesbians in South Africa is alarming. LGBT workers and job seekers still face discrimination and harassment in the workplace and the trade union movement. This is despite the broad commitments and resolutions taken at international and national levels to promote and protect the rights of LGBT identifying workers and to highlight good practices that promote meaningful inclusion. 

Discrimination, harassment and exclusion from the labour market often occur because fellow workers and employers have very strong perceptions of what is considered heteronormative. We think that there’s been increased access to justice for LGBT workers over the past few years due to progressive legislationHowever, legislation alone has not stopped discrimination. The reality is that many LGBT workers and job seekers continue to face discrimination and harassment on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 

The good news is that we have examples of how broad commitments and resolutions made at international and national levels can serve as important starting points to programmes that promote consciousness-raising and shifts in practice at a local level: In 2012, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the Promoting Rights, Diversity and Equality in the World of Work (PRIDE) project and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) passed a resolution calling on affiliate trade unions to actively promote and protect the rights of LGBT identifying workers. Yet, gender activists in the trade union movement have limited exposure to addressing LGBT rights as part of their gender equality mission. Consequently, activists struggle with their own homophobic attitudes and behaviours. The trade union movement hasn’t actively engaged with other civil society organisations such as LGBT organisations, resulting in programmes that operate in silos. 

Project partner

The LGBTI  Workplace Rights project is made possible through the support of The Other Foundation. The Other Foundation is an African trust that advances equality and freedom in southern Africa with a particular focus on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Views of our LGBTI project partners

Key project contact:  Nosipho Twala  | nosipho@lrs.org.za

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