Sunday, February 18, 2007

Just back from Germany

Just got back from Germany where I was able to attend the Ver.di LGBT Conference in Berlin.

By way of explanation Ver.di dtands for Die Vereinigte Dienstleistungsgewerkshaft - the united (public ) services union - and equivalent of UNISON in Germany.

I should also say that I had never been to Berlin before but didn't get really enough time to exlpore the place - will need to go back to do that.

Needless to say the Ver.di LGBT Conference was an amazing vocabulary builder for all sorts of terms relating to unions and human rights issues but my German still has a long way to go before impressing anyone (apart from me just for trying .....) !!

Although the structure was very different from what we are used to in the UK union movement (where we usually have, certainly in UNISON, a motion based decision making process) I really learned a lot from the day and it opened up a lot of my perspectives on international working on LGBT issues. (The Ver.di LGBT website is here and well worth a look).

The things they discussed via a series of speakers followed by open questions and discussions were really interesting and thought provoking. These included some really interesting stuff on the role of trade unions in promoting LGBT rights worldwide, including a contribution from a representative of the Dutch union Abvakabo, which has also been prominent in promoting LGBT international work, with both unions taking an active role (along with UNISON) in the PSI-EI LGBT Forum - link via PSI (Public Services International) here.

Other issues discussed included some data on historical trends in workplace discrimination and harassment (including effects of stress and ill-health) as well as the flaws in the German Equality law which seems to have been watered down prior, with for instance no provision for pensions equality between registered partners and married couples and a few other significant shortcomings, some of which may contravene the EU Directives.

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I was also reminded of this speech by Louise Arbour at the Montreal LGBT Conference.

The speech is well worth the read and can also be read here (Women's Rights in Development - http://www.awid.org).

There is a really good Wikipedia page on the Montreal Declaration can also be seen here.

2 comments:

  1. Moira6:18 am

    Thanks for Louise Arbour's speech: a usefully cogent and dispassionate summary and very quotable when lobbying or campaigning. I especially like the comparison with the (in)-action on domestic violence, a parallel I hadn't thought to make until now.

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  2. I think it is remarkable that she made such a powerful and clear cut speech, especially in her reference to Toonen.

    The Montreal declaration is a really helpful summary of all the things we are campaigning for and Louise Arbour's speech along side the fact that 3 LGBT NGO's have gained ECOSOC recognition and the recent Norway statement signed on by 54 states.

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