22. Rights of Gays and Lesbian Journalists
Proposed: MEAA, Australia
The International Federation of Journalists has a long history of fighting for the human rights of journalists. In 2001 it is appropriate for the IFJ to start dealing with another human rights issue – the rights of gays and lesbian journalists.
As trade unionists we recognise that discrimination in any form is unacceptable, and yet every day lesbian and gay journalist around the world are harassed, sacked, beaten and discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. We may not be able to get a job, we may not get promoted, we may not get the same rights, benefits and entitlements as our colleagues, not because of our skills as journalists, but simply because of our sexuality.
The IFJ and its affiliates must encourage diversity and social inclusion, and ensure no journalist is afraid of their working future because of other people’s prejudices or homophobia. We must further develop our capacity to organise new members, and take up the concerns of groups that have been traditionally sidelines in the mainstream union agenda. Lesbian and gay journalists are one of these groups.
But during the last 30 years, society has become more accepting of lesbians and gay men, and in turn we have openly taken our place as valuable members of unions, and in newsrooms around the world. It is now time for unions to change with society.
Our unions were formed to improve and protect the working conditions of journalists. If a journalist is discriminated against or harassed because of their sexual orientation, it is the responsibility of that journalist’s trade union to provide legal and industrial protection. This protection is even more necessary in countries in which there are no laws that prevent discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.
Sadly unions do not always fulfill their obligations to their day and lesbian members. However in the new millennium, these journalists are increasingly demanding their rights are respected and dealt with. To this end, the 2d World Congress of Lesbian and Gay Trade Unionists will be held in Sydney in 2002.
Reflecting the IFJ’s equality policy statement, which aims to ensure all members of affiliated unions and employees of the IFJ “are not treated less favourably because of their gender, colour, nationality, religious belief, sexual orientation or disability”,
Accordingly, the 24th IFJ Congress, meeting in Seoul on June 11th to June 15th, 2001
endorses the 2nd World Conference of Lesbian and Gay Trade Unionists, to be held in Sydney in 2002. Further the IFJ urges all affiliates to send delegates to the conference, which will focus on important human rights issues.
Also directs the IFJ executive to follow Public Service International (PSI) and Education International (EI) and develop a comprehensive policy on working with gay and lesbian members to ensure trade unions include active prevention of discrimination and homophobia at work to improve working conditions for gay and lesbian journalists.”