Following his election at their recent AGM, Kris shares his thoughts on becoming the new chair of PCS Proud, our union’s LGBT+ members group, and how he hopes to help take forward LGBT+ equality in PCS.
At the beginning of November Proud was able to hold our Annual General Meeting, marking the culmination of months of work with PCS Equality to reengage with LGBT+ members, a process which began at the start of 2018.
Our AGM was our best attended for some time, debating motions and electing our new national committee. I feel incredibly honoured to take over as the new chair, but more importantly I am excited to see the majority of seats on our committee now filled, and with a diverse range of voices which will help to improve how we operate.
Now we begin planning our work for the year ahead. Our AGM carried several motions for us to take forward, including updating our language and documentation to become truly LGBT+ inclusive, as well as utilising feedback provided by members to our ‘Proud Survey’ to create an action plan for launching in February as part of LGBT+ History Month.
A key ongoing issue for the committee remains that of trans equality. October saw the close of the Westminster Government’s consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act, however we are under no illusions that this was the end of the issue.
Sections of mainstream, and social, media, including some within our movement, continue a campaign of fearmongering and misinformation, targeting trans and non binary people and contributing to a toxic atmosphere for all those involved in the current “debate”.
Looking beyond our AGM, an important objective for me is to look at how we support LGBT+ members in Northern Ireland. Despite being introduced across the rest of the UK several years ago, marriage equality continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland which we must challenge to ensure full equality for LGBT+ members, regardless of where they are.
Another priority for me will be to consider how we improve our cross working with PCS’s other equality structures. We as LGBT+ people do not exist in isolation when it comes to being part of an under represented community. Many also face challenges for being black, disabled, a woman, young (and old) or any mixture therein.
Issues such as mental health cut across all our communities, requiring a joined up response which reflects the nuances of an individual’s background and circumstances. I have already had the opportunity to work with PCS’s young workers, attending their seminar earlier this year to discuss our work, I hope to see this continue alongside building our links with the remaining equality forums.
The coming year will also be interesting with the introduction of reserved seats on the NEC for LGBT+ voices, offering new opportunities to take our members’ views directly to the top of our union.
I invite all members, whether you identify as LGBT+ or an ally, to join Proud and help us to continue the fight for LGBT+ equality, in the UK and around the world.