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UK: new challenges facing LGBT teachers

"With the increasing multicultural nature of western European societies, new obstacles have emerged for the achievement of LGTB rights. We hear of teachers who no longer dare to be open about their sexual orientation, afraid of hostile reactions by students some of whom are driven by religious fanatism," said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, at a conference on homophobia around the world organized by the British Trade Unions Congress (TUC) on 6 February in London.

"We believe in tolerance as a value crucial to social cohesion. But tolerance should end where intolerance starts, where basic human values are being questioned and personal freedoms are being threatened." Van Leeuwen, who spoke of LGBT rights being violated in many countries, stressed the importance of education unions better protecting the interests of their LGBT members. The conference, entitled "Stamping out homophobia: All over the world!", was attended by some 150 trade union activists from TUC member organisations. LGBT activists from Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Peru and Nigeria gave a sombre picture of LGBT rights in their countries. UK Foreign Office Human Rights Minister Ian Pearson who addressed the conference, informed that the UK government is currently engaged in getting LGTB rights on the agenda within the UN system. Rebeca Sevilla, EI's Equality Co-ordinator, also took part in the discussions. For more information about EI's equality policies, please contact us.

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