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CUPE’s National Pink Triangle Committee is making big strides on the international stage of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LBGT) activism.

Members of CUPE’s National Pink Triangle Committee, pictured from left to right:
Gerry Lavallee, CUPE Airline Division Representative.
Joey Sayer, Alberta Representative.
Sinda Cathcart, Committee Co-Chair and Saskatchewan Representative.
Jean-Pierre Le Clerc, Quebec Representative.
Michael Butler, CUPE Staff, National Secretary Treasurer’s Office.

Members of the Committee recently returned from the 2nd annual World Conference of Lesbian and Gay Trade Unionists in Sydney Australia. The World Conference attracted a total of 66 groups and organizations from around the world.

The Pink Triangle Committee is committed to building international linkages in order to advance the human rights of LBGTT people everywhere. Forging international alliances is also an effective means of combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is another Committee concern. According to UNAIDS, the United Nations’ AIDS Agency, 42 million people are living with HIV worldwide and the majority of cases, 75 percent, are in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, since the 1980s, 20 million Africans have died from AIDS.

The Sydney World Conference was an opportunity for international LBGTT activists to discuss issues of common concern, such as HIV/AIDS, workplace discrimination, union organizing, education strategies, legislative change, and transgender issues, among other issues. Action items contained in a comprehensive conference resolution calls on all global union federations and social allies to eliminate discrimination at work and in the community based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Committee members report that CUPE and Canada are at the forefront in negotiating progressive collective agreement language and in lobbying for legislative protections for LBGTT people. As a result, many countries are looking to CUPE and Canada for leadership. This is evidenced by the fact that CUPE materials, including various campaign materials, fact sheets and other resources, were scooped up by delegates in record time! The National Pink Triangle Committee will be taking a leadership role in planning for the next Workers’ Out Conference, which is scheduled for 2006 in Montreal.

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