Switzerland | UNIONS | LGBTI

Successful Conference of the IUF LGBTI Committee

Much to do, defend, and stand up against

In the framework of the 28th Congress of the IUF, an unprecedented number of participants and countries met yesterday afternoon for the second IUF Conference of LGBTI Workers, in what was a clear demonstration of how much progress our International Organization has made in gender diversity issues.

Gerardo Iglesias

14 | 06 | 2023

Photo: Gerardo Iglesias

Six years and the Covid-19 pandemic have passed since the first conference was held on August 27, 2017, as part of the agenda of the 27th International Congress.

In that first conference, a working group was formed with the mandate of preparing a proposal for the structure and rules of what would be the LGBTI and Allied Workers Committee of the IUF.

Stormy weather ahead

The various speakers at yesterday’s meeting in Switzerland pointed to the rise of the far-right around the world and highlighted that it is accompanied by aggressive campaigns against the rights of LGBTI people and anyone who does not conform to the norm.

“To me, respect comes first. I don’t want to be accepted; I want respect,” Pilar Rato, from the Services Federation of Spain’s Workers’ Commissions (CCOO), an active participant in the Committee’s work, said.

She went on to warn about the increasing strength of the far-right and intolerant ideologies targeting the labor movement and the LGBTI community across Europe.

We have made progress, we can’t deny that. But we need to be clear that nothing is handed to us on a plate. Every gain requires a struggle and if we don’t struggle we lose our rights,” she emphasized.

They want us back in the closet

For his part, Stuart Appelbaum, of the United States’ Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), speaking at the end of the event, exclaimed: “We have suffered many vicious attacks and they want to put us back in the closet. That’s where we are.”

Stuart, an eloquent speaker, summarized the situation in the United States, which is seeing a frank regression in equality and anti-discrimination legal protection strategies for the LGBTI community.

We have much to do, because not all unionists are clear on this, so we need to be firm and say that you cannot be a unionist and be against the LGBTI community,” he said.

Attendants at the meeting also reelected Michele Kessler and Gisele Adão to serve as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee, respectively .

We, at Rel UITA (IUF Latin America), extend our most sincere congratulations to both fellow unionists.

Photos: Gerardo Iglesias