just a ball game

Kick homophobia out of sport - just a ball game?

Maria Exall

Maria Exall, Chair of the Trade Union Congress LGBT Committee and serves on the TUC General Council

In the 1980s and 1990s as lesbian and gay trade unionists we had to struggle for recognition within our unions and for respect at our workplaces. Amnesty helped our cause then by avowing our rights. The network has done a great job in spreading the human rights message to working people over the past 30 years, and we are cooperating well on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Maria is also executive member of the Communication Workers' Union.

In a Morning Star interview Maria says:
"Despite us as LGBT people having formal civil equality in 2012, homophobia and transphobia still persist in many areas of British society and there is much continuing discrimination and prejudice that blights LGBT people's lives. It wasn't until 1997, when a Labour government with a socially progressive agenda was elected, that we saw the introduction of the comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation we have today.

Labour adopted a socially progressive agenda on LGBT rights from the mid-'80s onwards. A key factor in achieving this was the promotion of LGBT equality by trade unions and grass-roots labour movement organisations in response to their LGBT members and activists.

In fact, TUC Congress adopted its policy for full equality for LGBT people before its adoption at the Labour Party conference later in the same year.

In the trade union movement we have to resist the mistaken idea that equality is a luxury we cannot afford.

Already we have seen inclusive representative structures cut back. To limit democracy in this way - to ignore how homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and prejudice against those with disabilities erodes class solidarity - is highly dangerous.

In the trade union movement we have to resist the mistaken idea that equality is a luxury we cannot afford. Already we have seen inclusive representative structures cut back. To limit democracy in this way - to ignore how homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism and prejudice against those with disabilities erodes class solidarity - is highly dangerous."