Tuesday, 8 May 2012

NUS LGBT Conference 2012

Ken Smailes 
NUS LGBT Conference, a weekend of drama, policy, motions, Manchester nightlife and development of LGBT rights. I can honestly say I have never been to such an encouraging and thought-provoking conference. The Reading University delegation decided that we would all write a blog/report so that you and the society can see how we voted on your behalf and to encourage you to get involved in the LGBT movement and the fight for ever-increasing rights. 

Over the weekend, I attended a number of different workshops, the most interesting and important to me was one titled ‘faith and sexuality, a dialogue’. This workshop had a lot of relevance to me as I grew up in a very Christian family and have always found the relationship between faith and sexuality particularly difficult to negotiate. The workshop gave advice and how to workshops to have an open and frank discussion about how sexuality and different faiths can work together; you don’t just have to have one or another. It was also really interesting to see how many people at conference both defined as LGBT and as with faith, which was encouraging.

The weekend was mainly filled with motion debate; these motions go into NUS LGBT policy and dictate how the campaign is run over the next year. I am happy to say that the majority of policy passed was brilliant, it included motions to encourage more work on helping trans people parent, sexual health, more equal representation of bisexual people and continuation of the campaign on ending the blood donation ban for men who sleep with men. The motion that did seem to be most controversial was that including Harry Potter and Dumbledore as a gay figure, this definitely brought some strong opinions from the conference floor. All these motions and discussion was really heartening but did make me want to stay on another year to be able to work on these new campaigns!

Lastly the highlight of the weekend for me had to be the NUS LGBT awards and Gala Dinner which celebrated 40 years of the NUS LGBT campaign. There were a total of six awards up for grabs and Reading University Student Union LGBT was eligible for 5 of these. I am very proud to say that we were shortlisted for three of them, which means we were in the top five for these categories out of nearly 100 institutions!! These were Campaign of the Year, Society Development Award and LGBT Higher Education Student of the Year. To get this amount of shortlists was incredible; it is testament to the work of the society, the amazing people in it and the lengths we have all come. You should all feel so proud of yourself and I know we are only going to get better year on year.

Ken Smailes
LGBT President and RUSU LGBT Student Officer

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