The rights of LGBTQ+ workers

External practice


8-9 February 2023


Solidarity Center, and ERA- LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, Independent Education Union of Albania (SPASH), the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH), Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania (KSSH), Trade Union Federation of Education and Science of Albania (FSASH); the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Kosovo (BSPK) the Union of Workers in Education, Science, and Culture (SONK), and the Union of Independent and Autonomous Trade Unions (UNASM) from Macedonia, Nezavisnost Union from Serbia. Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), Alliance against LGBTI Discrimination the Shelter Centre, and ARSIS. Other civil society actors. Lawyers, journalists, community members, teachers the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, and the US Embassy in Tirana were present.

Reason it was developed

While progress has been made, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people still worry that revealing their sexuality at work will have negative consequences. Due to discrimination combined with a lack of workplace protections, unequal job benefits and taxation, and unsafe, under-resourced schools, LGBTI people may face extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and poverty. Also, the reveal of the identity struggle has detrimental impacts on their job, health, happiness, and productivity. But what can Trade Unions, responsible institutions, businesses, CSO, and other actors do to support LGBTI employees?


Plennary discussions and working groups.


- Participants learned a lot of new concepts such as that LGBTI rights are human rights and workers’ rights and LGBTI rights should be respected and protected, the importance of the freedom of association, and the power of unionizing and collective bargaining for the protection of rights of historically marginalized workers should be recognized. The LGBTI community faces stigma and discrimination during job interviews or in the workplace due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Union representatives mentioned the importance of unionizing and the benefits of collective bargaining for enabling decent jobs for LGBTI employees and other marginalized communities and protecting their rights. - Taking steps toward the creation of a preventive/protective culture for LGBTI workers’ rights takes time. But there is always a starting point. Unions can prepare/deliver informative, educational, and communication sessions, and materials, on LGBTI workers’ rights; they can organize awareness-raising campaigns for a more inclusive workplace; social dialogue meetings could take place with parents and teachers through the parent’s councils. - Unions also emphasized that as it starts to establish an inclusive climate in the workplace will be a great leap in the right direction for anyone, regardless of their sexuality, and it might just be the sign that makes someone feel comfortable about coming out. Trade Unions can invite LGBTI employees to attend local and national events as an opportunity for networking and promoting their rights. Civil Society organizations mentioned they have done several surveys with the LGBTI community regarding employment, discrimination at work, hate speech, workplace harassment, etc. - Civil Society Organizations should continue this cooperation with trade unions as necessary to share information and support and to create a network that helps and is in the interest of both parties. -Both parties should work closely with each other to fight for better wages, working conditions, health, and safety standards in the workplace, therefore for the same interest and causes for mutual benefit. They agreed that this training will be followed by other pieces of training, meetings, and events that will serve the cause of the protection of LGBTI workers’ rights and strengthen the role of unions in this cause. -The opportunities for working together and promoting diversity and protection of LGBTI workers’ rights are many but change will not come overnight. What’s more, the LGBTI community should be treated with dignity – including at work – and not perpetuating a world that actively causes harm to LGBTI workers and their families and communities. The ability to accept individuals for who they are, rather than whom they love, is essential. The rest will come after that is handled.


Solidarity Center, ERA- LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey



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