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Hayward calls for action on LGBTQ issues

The problems faced by LGBTQ people have to be tackled, a union leader has said.

Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, admitted a change in approach was needed in his own organisation.

Mr Hayward said that LGBTQ union members had told him they concealed their sexuality because of fears over the reaction of other members.

He added: “The union has always been a safe space for the LGBTQ community, to a certain extent.

“I say to a certain extent because you have people saying that they still don’t feel fully welcomed by segments of the population.”

Mr Hayward said: “There are very low occurrences of bullying and harassment in the BPSU-unionised environment regarding the LGBTQ community.

“But what I have been told by some members of the LGBTQ community is that some people may not feel comfortable coming out because they don’t want the label in the workplace.”

Mr Hayward said Linda Bogle-Mienzer, the second vice-president for the BPSU, is gay and on the union’s diversity committee.

He added: “Linda is prominent in the LGBTQ community and I encourage members to speak with individuals on the committee.

“She does her best, but I think that we have a way to go as a society.”

“We, the BPSU, have to make meaningful progress.”

Mr Hayward said: “The diversity committee’s role is trying to bring their concerns to the forefront so that they can also get addressed.”

He was speaking after he returned from the Public Services International’s Interamerican Regional Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last week, which covered discrimination in the workplace.

Mr Hayward submitted an article on racial inequity to the Bermuda media while at the conference.

Mr Hayward, who is to launch a forum for expatriate workers who are bullied and harassed, said: “Most public service unions and public services are facing similar challenges to different degrees, but it is a time for us to recognise what those challenges are and work together towards a solution.

“If you recognise something as a problem don’t just sit back and continue with the status quo, let’s try to be a change agent.

“Part of what I am seeking to do with the racism and xenophobia, and the stance towards our migrant workers, is to be a change agent.

“We must create the difficult conversations and, while we are raising advocacy, we must provide support where necessary.”