Trade Unions and LGBT+ Rights: Past Victories, Future Challenges


Date and time

Sat, 17 Feb 2024 14:00 - 15:30 GMT


Working Class Movement Library

51 Crescent Salford M5 4WX United Kingdom


From the first strike action organised by trade union members to save the job of a victimised gay colleague in the 1970s, through the mutual solidarity of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, trade unions have contributed immensely to the successes achieved for LGBT+ equality in Britain. Join Peter Purton and Meg Birchall for a talk that celebrates the past victories for LGBT+ rights in Britain, the significant challenges that LGBT+ people face today and what the trade union movement can do to support and empower its LGBT+ members.

Peter Purton began campaigning for LGBTQ+ equality in the 1970s, participating in all the struggles of those years. Believing that winning the active support of the Labour Movement was vital to achieving both legal and social progress, he played a leading part in the work of the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights (now LGBTLabour) to secure Labour Party support in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1998 he started work as the first LGBT officer for the TUC (Trades Union Congress) and helped secure the successive laws that culminated in the Equality Act (2010). On retirement (2016) he wrote 'Champions of Equality. Trade Unions and LGBT rights in Britain' (Lawrence & Wishart 2018), and has been warning for many years against complacency in the LGBTQ+ communities because rights that have been gained can also be lost.

Meg Birchall (they/them) is a councillor for Delph & Denshaw on Saddleworth Parish Council and one of the first transgender councillors in Greater Manchester. They are activist for trans rights within the labour movement and a member of the Labour for Trans Rights Secretariat.

Note for Attendees

Our events space has a ramp on entry, an accessible toilet and air purifier. If you have any access requirements then please let us know in advance of the event so we can make your visit as comfortable as we can.

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The history of the groups, campaigns and individuals who make up our collection at the Working Class Movement Library has a wide range of positions and the Library is committed to ensuring that this range is available for people to explore for themselves. Although respectful debate is encouraged, we will not tolerate sexism, homophobia, racism, transphobia, nor oppressive language or behaviour based on any structural inequality, including disability, socio-economic status, sexuality, age, education, religious affiliation, or gender expression. All who use our space, both the physical Library and its virtual spaces, share responsibility for maintaining it as a safe and welcoming one.

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