NUS discusses gay discrimination

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Homophobic bullying, the shortcomings of the Government-sponsored Equalities Review, and the National Blood Service’s ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood are just a few of the heated debates set to take place at the annual NUS Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) conference in Sheffield this weekend.

Students from institutions across the UK will attend the event, which will take place from today at Sheffield University.

The conference will set NUS LGBT policies for the next year, elect two national LGBT officers and allow delegates to attend workshops run by a number of external speakers from the LGBT movement.

The priorities for the LGBT campaign will be decided over the course of the weekend with debates including how NUS could get more involved in tackling the problem of homophobic bullying in schools, and the possibility of re-prioritising a previous NUS campaign which encouraged students to give blood because gay and bisexual men are banned from doing so by the National Blood Service.

Other issues up for discussion include the lack of protection for Trans students in the provision of goods and services, the funding problems that LGBT students face, and the issue of gay marriage in the USA.

Speaking before the conference, NUS LGBT officer James Walsh said: “The past year has been about developing our campaigns, building a strong coalition of support, and empowering LGBT students. From fighting for protection from discrimination in relation to the goods and services legislation, to organising the largest National Student Pride, LGBT students have been working hard for their community.

“The campaign has a lot to celebrate as more of our rights are recognised in legislation and a new chapter in the British LGBT movement begins, moving us further away from the era that brought about seriously discriminative legislation such as Section 28. “

Kat Louis, NUS’ Women’s Place LGBT officer added: “LGBT conference gives Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans students the opportunity to meet and discuss openly the issues affecting the LGBT student community, and to set out a new course of action in our fight for equality. As students look to the priorities for the next year, I would like to wish our successors the best of luck as they push the campaign against discrimination forward into 2007.

We have made great progress with our campaigns this year, and have had real success in engaging with the international liberation movement. However, there are still some serious hurdles to overcome, and some fundamental differences between the rights of people from the LGBT community, and the rights of other people, which must be addressed.”

Workshops and events will be being run by the Terrence Higgins Trust, Diva Magazine, the Centre for Excellence in Leadership, Lesbian and Gay Coalition against Racism, Daz-elle, and the EU for Diversity against Discrimination campaign.