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Open for Business: discrimination is harmful to our profits

Although this website is mainly dedicated to the role of trade unions in preventing and combating discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender characteristics, sometimes it is worth mentioning developments in companies itself. It is not always that interests clash. In December 2020, the corporate consortium Open for Business published a report promoting LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace. The main focus is not on the human rights issue here, or on the workers' rights issue. It is mainly on profit. Which does not mean that the arguments can never be used in trade union environments or debates. The report dives into the motives for LGBT staff to avoid being sent to sent to some countries with an LGBT-phobic climate and shows that even some companies are willing to work for LGBT+ rights outside the buildings of their offices and works. Of course, the covid-19 crisis has exacerbated the whole situation.
An interesting report, which you can find here.

October 26th: Intersex Awareness Day

When they were not allowed to speak at the 1996 version of the annual congress of the American Academy of Pediatrics about the trauma caused by 'gender correction' operations, a group of intersex people protested. That was October 26, 1996.
Today, October 26th is celebrated as Intersex Awareness Day.
To mark this day, Out&Equal and interACT published a brochure about intersex inclusion at the workplace.
You can find it here.
intersex pride flag

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer

German army to compensate for previous discrimination

Germany recognises that it has caused a lot of suffering for gay people, also after the nazi period. Its Minister of Defence has made it clear that she is preparing a proposal to compensate the victims of the discrimination against gay men by the German armed forces.
The Nazi regime was over in May 1945. Many German gay men had died in concentration camps. That is because the Nazi government had extended the existing legal rules against homosexuality. Only few of the gay men who had been arrested in the Nazi period survived the camps. But for them, the end of the war did not mean the end of their suffering. In post-Nazi Germany they were forced to serve the rest of the sentences Nazi judges had imposed on them.
The legal changes concerning homosexual acts were reversed in 1950 in Eastern Germany (GDR), but remained in force for a long time in Western Germany. There, the first step was made in 1969, a second four years later.
Only in 1994, after the German reunification, the whole section about homosexuality (the so-called paragraph 175) was deleted from the criminal code.
In most of the post-war decades, German gay men could face serious problems. German police remained active in 'tracking down' and registering gay men. The number of suicides amongst them was high. For those who had been arrested or even suspected, their career was over.
To a greater extent this was true for the German armed forces, in which a macho culture ruled.
Structural discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the German armed forces has been terminated oficially in July, 2000. Twenty years later the Minister of Defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (picture), is preraring a compensation arrangement for the victim of this type of discrimination. The compensation arrangement is still under construction, so there are no details yet.

Dutch department store extends leave facilities

It is still impossible in the Netherlands, as elsewhere in the world, to get a legal recognition for a family with more than two parents. Mummy-daddy is OK, daddy-daddy is OK, and so is mummy-mummy, single parents are OK. But the state does not recognise multiparental families. Yet, without a legal recognition, it is possible to get recognition of this type of family in a collective labour agreement. The Dutch department store Hema takes the lead.
From now on, if Hema personnel is participating in a multiparental family or is expecting to be, with a baby in the near future, they can get parental leave in the same way 'traditional' fathers or mothers can. An example: if a male couple with a single mother are expecting a baby, all three can have parental leave, if they work for Hema. The arrangement includes adoption situations, and Hema allows a maximum leave of ten weeks, more than the legal minimum.
Hema's actions are in line with proposals by the FNV Pink group, but are based on suggestions made by their own personnel.
Previously, Hema decided to stop labelling their children's clothes as being for either baby boys or baby girls, which was shocking to some of their customers.

Hema logo

school board cartoon

Romanian education union acts against suppressive bill

A man is a man, a woman is a woman. There are only two categories, if it comes to gender. Teaching children that there is more in life is dangerous and must become illegal.
That is the point of view of the majority of the Romanian parliament
On the 16th of June, 2020, a majority of the MPs voted in favour of a bill that would forbid teaching about gender diversity at schools.
But for legislation to come into force the approval by the president is essential.
The Romanian education Federatia Sindicatelor Libere din Invatamant was already talking with the president's staff on the very next day after the voting in parliament.
In this meeting both delegations concluded that the legislation parliament had passed would be contradictive to the Romanian constitution.
The president then officially declared that he would not sign the act and that he would request advice from the Constitutional Court about it.
A spokesperson of the Romanian education union commented that the whole bill was merely a publicity stunt because of the local elections that are planned for September. "The social-democrats have proposed this because they want support from rural areas (where people in general have low education, very traditional views and are close to the Orthodox Church). They were completely aware that this proposal is against the Constitution."
Playing the LGBTI*-phobia card for electional motives, where did we see that before?

OECD report: LGBTI inclusiveness still needs work

In the 2020 Pride Week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD published a report on LGBTI inclusiveness under the title "Over the Rainbow?" Yes, LGBTI rights also have economic aspects. The report argues that there are three main reasons for promoting LGBTI inclusiveness: the first and most important reason being the ethical or moral one, but the second one because discrimination hinders economic development - and the third one social. The report focuses on the legal change that countries can, or need to, take to improve their track record.
Read more here.

Front cover of the report

Lady Justice

US Supreme Court: LGBT discrimination at work is illegal

June 15, 2020. In a groundbreaking verdict, The US Supreme Court declared that the legislation protection against sex discrimination at the workplace also applies to LGBT discrimination. The verdict is based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects workers against discrimination on the basis of (race, religion, national origin or) sex. The Court argues that if the sex or gender of the gay plaintiffs were different, they would not have been sacked. This clearly shows that it is discrimination on the basis of their sex (or gender). The Court used the same arguments in a case of a transgender woman, who was fired after she announced at her work that she would stop acting as a male, the gender that was mentioned on her original birth certificate. Read more here.

Impact of covid-19 pandemic measures on LGBT people: IESOGI calls for information

The covid-19 crisis affects all of us on this globe. Not only the direct health risks are a threat. The measures that authorities have taken as safety precautions affect our lives, too. There might even be a greater risk for LGBT people: have states ensured that their situation is taken into account when considering safety measures? This is the main issue in a consultation round by the Independant Expert (IE) on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), a position attached to the office of the Human Rights Commissioner of the United Nations, currently performed by Victor Madrigal Borloz (picture).
Read more here.

Victor Madrigal Borloz, the current IESOGI


Copenhagen conference

FIU Equality, a partnership between the Danish Metal Workers' Union (Dansk Metal), the (Danish) National Federation of Trade Unions in the Service Sector (Serviceforbundet) and the United Federation of Danish workers (3F) organises on the 21st of August, just before the Copenhagen Pride, a conference under the title LGBT+ Ligestilling på det danske arbejdsmarked. That is, if the measures to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic allow this. Read more on the web site or the facebook page

IKEA promoting sexual and gender diversity not appreciated in Poland

When Tomasz K., a worker for IKEA in Poland, noticed that his employer was promoting sexual and gender diversity, he commented on the company's intranet that homosexuality was an abomination and quoted lines from the bible linking homosexual people with death and blood.
The company requested that he would withdraw these comments, but he refused. Then IKEA decided to dismiss him, telling that he endangered the climate at the workplace.
Tomasz K. was furious and went to the media, declaring that as a catholic, he could not censor the word of God. A group of Polish bishops stated that they supported him; the Minister of Justice also agreed that IKEA had violated "those who do not share the ideas of homosexual activists". Now the Warsaw prosecutor has charged the IKEA manager who dismissed him "because of discrimination on the basis of religious conviction". If the court would find the charge justified, the manager may face a fine or even imprisonment up to two years. [Source: Gay Star New]

IKEA logo

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Global Unions to start LGBTQI* working group

At the occasion of IDAHOT 2020, the Council of Global Unions, the umbrella organisation in which the Global Unions Federations co-operate and who represent about 200 million workers around the world, has declared its ongoing commitment to protect LHBTI* workers against marginalisation, discrimination and violence. The Council has seen some signals that under the covid-19 pandemic and the lock-down measures in most countries, LGBTI* workers are among those who suffer most. Some have great difficulties in access to health care, others are victims of domestic violence, while lots of them face homophobic bullying on-line.
The Council has decided to set up a working group that can help develop more detailed tools to prevent and combat this type of discrimination. It calls upon its member unions to enhance their commitment, too. Read the whole statement here.