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Championing Bisexual Awareness

September 14, 2017 11:35 AM

Campaigners holding the Bisexual flagStockport Town Hall debates how to serve bisexual residents most effectively tonight with a motion moved by Lib Dem councillor Lisa Smart.

Welcoming the motion for debate, LGBT+ Lib Dems Chair Jennie Rigg said, "Too often in talking about 'LGBT' policy-makers concentrate on those first two letters. Ahead of Bi Visibility Day it is excellent to hear from Lib Dem councillors putting the focus firmly on the 'B' and the many ways bisexual people face specific challenges."

The motion highlights how recent research has shown bisexual people's needs are different from those of lesbians and gay men, and champions the work of bi community projects. It notes Bi Visibility Day (next Saturday - 23 September) but notes that the council needs to work on equality issues all year round, not only on headline dates.

Cllr Smart, who will propose the motion, said, "As a society, we have definitely made progress on LGBT+ Equality over the past few decades but there is still a distance to travel. On Thursday evening we will be talking about the barriers still faced by those members of our community who are bisexual.

"More than one in four bisexual employees hide their sexuality at work, compared with one in six among gay and lesbian employees. Bisexual people are more likely to experience mental health problems in general and are twice as likely to experience depression and/or anxiety.

"Often in the council chamber we can have robust debates and strong disagreements about issues. My hope is that we can unite and come together to support the bisexual members of our community, take some steps to celebrate the bisexual community and let them know that they are valued in Stockport."

The motion, to be debated by full council, reads:

Bisexual Awareness

This council meeting notes:
· the recent 50th anniversary of the change in law which partially decriminalised male homosexuality;
· the great strides our society has taken towards accepting and supporting the needs and rights of the LGBT+ community, including the recognition of sexuality as a protected characteristic under equalities legislation; and
· that there are still huge challenges to be faced, including over a third of LGBT+ employees having experienced harassment or bullying at work.

This council meeting further notes the specific challenges faced by those
who identify as bisexual, including:
· more than one in four bisexual employees hiding their sexuality at work, compared with one in six among gay and lesbian employees;
· being subjected to specific abuse over unreliability, promiscuity or confusion about their sexuality, including from some who identify as gay and lesbian;
· being more likely to experience mental health problems in general (43% compared to 25% in the wider population); and
· being twice as likely to experience depression and/or anxiety (34% compared to 17% in the wider population).

This council meeting welcomes:
· the support provided by local organisations such as BiPhoria in Manchester, the UK's longest running bisexual support project;
· the support given locally and nationally to IDAHOBIT day;
· the growing success of Bi Visibility Day, held each year on 23rd September since 1999; and
· the support given to this event by many councils, including flying the bisexual pride flag or light up civic buildings in the flag's pink, purple and blue colours.

This council meeting believes
· that, as a responsible employer, the council should do all it can to ensure that all employees feel safe and confident to be open about their sexuality; and
· that, as a commissioner and provider of general and specialist services, this council should do all it can to ensure that service users are treated with dignity that takes account of the wide variety of sexuality they may have and the different needs they may have as a result.

This council meeting therefore resolves
· to ensure that all staff receive mandatory training on equality in the workplace that is refreshed at appropriate intervals;
· to ensure all staff involved in service delivery receive additional training on equality;
· that such training includes specific information relevant to bisexuality; and
· that this council adds Bi Visibility Day to the calendar of events it marks, lighting up the town hall in pink, purple and blue and flying the bisexual pride flag.