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THE Covid-19 pandemic has “shone a stark light on the deep and persistent structural inequalities” in Britain, delegates at the TUC’s LGBT+ workers’ conference heard today.
The working class in general has been hit hardest by the health risks and economic impact of the pandemic, but black workers, women, disabled people and LGBT+ people have all been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis, delegates heard.
An alarming increase in hate crime and hate speech had been recorded during the Covid-19 crisis, including from people blaming LGBT+ people for the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, TUC research found that 40 per cent of LGBT+ workers had been harassed or discriminated against at work, but the Galop LGBT+ anti-violence charity and unions had all seen a sharp increase, especially among key workers on the front line.
“We know that the pandemic has exposed really deep structural inequalities that were there long before the pandemic ever arrived, but have been magnified by it,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“But when it comes to the LGBT+ community, I think very often those inequalities are still hidden, and part of our job is to make people sit up and pay attention and — more to the point — take action.”
Ms O’Grady said it was the very sectors in which LGBT+ people had been more likely to work — such as the arts and culture, travel, tourism and hospitality, where it was “easier to be out” — that had also been among those hardest hit by the pandemic.
It was also likely that LGBT+ workers would be disproportionately at risk of being unfairly targeted for redundancy.
National Education Union delegate Kerry Goldsmith pointed out that many LGBT+ workers were more likely to live alone and therefore more deeply affected by the social isolation the pandemic had created.
Rising housing costs had also forced many, particularly young people, into unsafe housing situations, while some had been outed as a direct result of teaching from home.
The pandemic had created a surge in the number of young LGBT+ people who had been victims of domestic abuse or seeking support because they had been forced to live in phobic households, said Unison delegate Jennifer Black.
The Fire Brigades Union’s Pat Carberry noted that since the pandemic started “many employers have taken the view that our nation is at war and that they do not need to comply with laws that they view as an inconvenience.”
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