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INMO Examines Gay Rights at First LGBT Conference. 20-06-13
PRESS RELEASE. Thursday, June 20th, 2013
 
INMO Examines Gay  Rights at  First LGBT Conference. 
 
- Onus on employers to provide an open workplace 
 
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will hold its first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Conference in Dublin tomorrow, Friday, June 21st in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, from 1.30p.m. – 5.00p.m. This is the first time in its history that gay rights will be the subject of an INMO Conference.
 
The conference will address the daily reality of discrimination and fear facing LGBT nurses and midwives and the effect of this in their workplaces. The conference will also hear from a number of speakers on the progress made in the last number of years towards LGBT equality in law.  
 
The keynote address will be delivered by Michael Cashman, CBE, MEP who will detail Ireland’s LGBT record to date from his perspective and will outline the necessary steps still required before full equality is realised.  Mr Cashman first came to prominence as an actor in EastEnders, when, in 1989 he caused a media storm and Parliamentary fury in the House of Commons following his character’s kiss with his boyfriend which was the very first pre-watershed gay kiss on British television.  Mr Cashman was a founder of Stonewall, now the largest LGBT Equality Organisation in Europe and was elected to the European Parliament in 1999.  
 
Dr Mel Duffy from DCU will present her research on the reality behind being gay or lesbian in nursing/ midwifery.  She will demonstrate how isolated gay and lesbian nurses/midwives can sometimes feel in the workplace.  Dr Duffy’s research concludes that if we as a society constantly presume heterosexuality, both in the workplace and outside, then we are forcing our gay and lesbian colleagues to make a statement about their sexuality or to hide it.  Research suggests the latter is the preferred option in these instances.  Dr Duffy said that “being ‘out’ in the workplace can improve productivity.  Employers need to keep this in mind and ensure appropriate diversity policies are in place.  If people are not able to be themselves in a job, they will under-perform. It is essential for patient care that our staff are happy in their working environment.”
 
Other speakers include Deputy Jerry Buttimer, TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee and one of the first openly gay politicians in Leinster House.  Deputy Buttimer’s title for his address is “Equality in the workplace matters”;  Moninne Griffith, Director of Marriage Equality will speak on “Why marriage equality matters, and how you can play your part to get this historic campaign over the line”; Marianne McGiffin, Retired Nurse and Chairperson of OWLS (Older Wiser Lesbians) will deliver a paper entitled “A creature from another age? The journey from offline to online”, followed by Dr Conchubhair Ó Maoileoin a medical doctor and researcher who will speak on “LGBT Healthcare Professionals – Challenges and Opportunities.”
Odhr?n Allen, GLEN, Director of Mental Health will also address the conference on “Promoting LGBT Inclusive Healthcare” while Marian Harkin, MEP will provide “The European Perspective.’
 
Speaking ahead of the conference, INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:
 
“While recognising that public opinion has shifted in favour of LGBT rights, we certainly cannot stand back and assume such rights will flow without elements of prejudice, discrimination, bullying and invisibility, driven by a fear of ‘coming out’. Gay rights are human rights and it is important that LGBT members of the INMO know that they are fully supported and any attempt to discriminate against any of our members will be opposed by the Organisation.”
 
Mr Doran continued: “Our language must change to accommodate everyone and let our colleagues share their personal stories in their own time and without fear.  Visible support from trade unions is an important step.  The INMO, and indeed other unions, must step up to the plate and we must lead by example.  We must show that our presumption of heterosexuality serves only to isolate and marginalise our colleagues.”
 
Despite significant progress and increasing public support for LGBT rights and recognition, the reality of “lived experience” can be different.  According to Clare Treacy, the INMO’s Director of Social Policy, Regulation and Recruitment “it is this dichotomy that the conference hopes to explore.”
 
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