2012: Manchester Council Responds

town hall manchester
Manchester: now leaving the 1980s

To round off our Bi Stories for LGBT History Month, a story that spans the past and the present.

In 1995, members of Bisexual Action Manchester lobbied their city council about its Equal Opportunities and Diversity policies and statements.

The council’s diversity monitoring offered three options for sexual orientation: Heterosexual, Gay and Lesbian. Service user monitoring and job application equalities paperwork did the same. Not surprisingly, Bisexual Action thought that if you had enough room for three options, and had already asked about gender, this could be somewhat improved.

The council knocked this back saying that the Equal Opportunities sub-committee saw no need to amend or revise such things for now, but thank you for your interest and we’ll bear it in mind.

That was 1995.

Today, 29th February 2012, at the council’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Consultation Day the council announced a review of the equalities policies. They intend to consider whether – as amongst other things we have largely moved from talking about L&G to LGB&T – perhaps it is time to update such documents. This would mean building on changes a few years ago which led to a peculiar blend of LG and LGBT highlighted during last year’s LGBT History Month bi talk in the city.

Lead councillor in Manchester on gay men’s issues, Paul Fairweather, told BiMedia of the review: “I think we are looking – because we haven’t reviewed our policies for a long time. I think the debate is whether we keep specialised workers or move to a more generalised system.

“My view is we need more specialised workers. We’ve developed more work around B and T issues recently. We’ve included bisexuals, we talk about LGB not LG in the consultation day, and we have had bisexual workshops within that day. I think we are keen to work with bisexual groups in the city.”

So BiPhoria and Bisexual Action may yet be pressing at an open door, albeit probably more down to the new public sector equality duty and less down to pressure from bis within and without the council.

It took somewhere between a decade and a touch over sixteen years. Quite speedy for a council…