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CUPE delegates have returned home from the Workers Out! conference in Montreal prepared to make a difference for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) members.

CUPE was a major partner of the Workers Out! conference. Over three days last week, some 350 participants from labour organizations all over the world participated in workshops, plenary sessions and round-table discussions. They were working on an international strategic plan to help unions take up the struggle for LGBT rights in the workplace and in society.

Canada is better than most places,” said Jean-Pierre LeClerc, a member of CUPE’s national pink triangle committee. “LGBT people have more or less achieved legal equality. But we haven’t achieved social equality yet. We want to reach the point where everyone is indifferent to differences, whether it’s LGBT, people of colour, people with disabilities – all equity-seeking groups.”

Many CUPE activists, officers and staff spoke at the conference, including LeClerc, National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux, CUPE Ontario treasurer Fred Hahn, and national staff member Michael Butler. Former CUPE member Trish Salah gave a presentation on the challenges facing transsexuals and transgender people in the workplace.

Many more members in attendance asked questions and made thoughtful observations at the microphones. They included CUPE 4400 member (Toronto school support staff) Martine Stonehouse and an energetic young delegation from CUPE 391 (Vancouver public libraries). The CUPE 391 members shared their experiences in their blog .

The conference culminated with the adoption of a global union action plan for LGBT workers. We will be posting this document online as soon as the final version has been approved and distributed.

Workers Out! was organized by labour organizations in Canada and Quebec, including the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec.

Workers Out! was part of a broader conference on LGBT human rights, which in turn is a major component of the 1st World Outgames, an international gathering of LGBT athletes and artists and their supporters taking place in Montreal at the same time.

Thousands of people were on hand at the games’ opening ceremonies to hear tennis great Martina Navratilova and Canadian Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury read the Declaration of Montreal . This document will be presented to the United Nations and to governments around the world to mobilize greater international support for LGBT rights.

Visit the Workers Out! or the Outgames website for all the details.