Historical MoU to strengthen LGBTI rights in the UN

M. Gurchaten Sandhu (Nanoo) – UNGLOBE Focal point in the ILO Staff Union M. Daniel Cork – 1rst Vice-Chairperson of the ILO Staff Union CCISUA mid-term meeting – New-York (November 2017


Recalling my first lectures in economics, I was introduced to the principles of transitive economics, which tell us that;

If a = b

And b = c

Therefore a = c i.e. a = b = c

Applying this principle to diversity and inclusion we know that; LGBTI rights = human rights

And we also know that; Human rights = Workers’ rights

Then surely LGBTI rights = Workers’ Rights

This equation is central to the work of UN-Globe, the staff group representing lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans and inter-sex (LGBTI) staff of the UN and it’s peace keeping operations.

Combatting discrimination based on sexual-orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in the workplace cannot be done alone. LGBTI workers need to build alliances and develop support at all levels, including with trade unions. The UN workplace is no exception to this. Events as recently as 2015 demonstrate the importance of this alliance.

In April 2015, unhappy with the then SG’s administrative decision to ensure equality of all legal partnerships and survivor rights regardless of nationality, certain member states challenged  his  authority and motioned for a vote to have this decision reversed. Prior to the SG’s decision the UN’s personal status policy discriminated against staff whose country of nationality did not recognise their marital status. A yes result would have had negative consequences on the rights of staff, particular those staff with same-sex partners, and pushed back the progress made in the UN for equality for all its staff.

Responding to UN-Globe’s call for support, and together with the Federations of International Civil Servants Association (FICSA) and United Nations International Civil Servants Federation (UNISERV), Coordinating Committee of International Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA) campaigned to ensure that this proposal was defeated. Their efforts included a joint letter to all Members of the UN’s General Assembly Fifth Committee. The vote was defeated and represented an important victory for UN-Globe and its allies.

The vote also highlighted a need to further strengthen the alliance between UN-Globe and CCISUA, and for both staff groups to work together to promote a more inclusive culture for LGBTI staff in UN workplaces by ensuring activities, policies and programmes of the relevant organizations of the UN system have factored in the needs of LGBTI staff. The new memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed on 1st November 2017, does exactly that. The MoU solidifies UN-Globe’s and CCISUA’s commitment to work together toward strengthening the organization’s response to combat discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the workplace to the benefit and welfare of staff.

Ensuring that diversity and equality start at home and its role as an LGBTI ally, the ILO Staff Union supports this new partnership and is committed to making it a success.


Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *