Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, praised businesses for leading the way on trans equality in her keynote speech at Stonewall’s Workplace Conference today (Friday 27 April).
The Labour Party Member told the London conference ‘Businesses are ahead of governments and as one non-binary person told Stonewall ‘how is it that my bank and my electricity supplier recognise my gender but not my country?’
During her powerful speech, Butler explained her personal experience in supporting a close friend in coming out. She also called on the LGBT community to be allies to each other and ‘come out’ in support of trans people.
She said: ‘We must all use our voice to ensure that LGBT people and their rights are supported, championed and celebrated. We cannot allow any dilution of rights and protections.’
Both Butler and Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, referenced the 30th anniversary of Section 28 in their opening speeches. This legislation ushered in a dark time for LGBT people, as it effectively banned the discussion of same-sex relationships in schools.
The Shadow Secretary highlighted that today’s attacks on trans people echo what people in the LGBT community experienced under Section 28.
She said: ‘We are in a crucial year for legal equality for trans people – trans people are currently being targeted. The attacks on trans people are reminiscent of the horrific abuse lesbian, gay, and bi people experienced in the 1980s under Section 28.’
She closed her speech saying: ‘I am your ally, Labour is your proud ally, and I would like for us all to look for the people who are being left out and let them in.’
Other speakers at the conference included Stonewall’s Gay Role Model of the Year Krishna Omkar from King & Spalding and Barbara Hosking, an author who came out at the age of 91.
The day wrapped up with a discussion on why it’s important to Come Out For Trans Equality with contributions from trans role models, including London Underground Train Operator CJ Bruce, Sarah Stephenson Hunter, a disability advisor from the University of Nottingham, the writer KUCHENGA and Brandon Yeadon from Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group.
This year was the biggest conference the charity has ever hosted, with more than 800 senior business leaders, HR and diversity professionals and LGBT staff coming out to learn what they can do to advance equality for LGBT people.
Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s Chief Executive, said: ‘At this year’s conference we welcomed many businesses who haven’t worked with us before but who want to do more to help the LGBT people in their organisations.
‘As much as they need our support, we need theirs. We need more local authorities, businesses, senior leaders and staff to come out in support of their LGBT colleagues, clients and customers.
‘We have made so much progress but we still have a long way to go and we cannot allow equality to stagnate.
‘The commitment and efforts of people in workplaces up and down the country are crucial in the fight to achieve full equality. It’s only by working together that we can create a world where all young lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are accepted without exception.’
Stonewall staff hosted more than 20 sessions over the course of the day to help build understanding on LGBT inclusion such as how to support bi staff, the role of senior leaders and how to help further global LGBT equality – even in countries where anti-LGBT legislation exists.