The National Assembly For Wales


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International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – a celebration of sexual and gender diversity

rainbow flag

Ross Davies, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the National Assembly for Wales

Each year on 17 May, people across the world mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) to celebrate the diversity of gender identities and sexual orientations. The day is used by campaigners to highlight important issues to policy makers, leaders, the public and the media to help combat hatred, bigotry and discrimination.

The campaign provides a voice to people facing marginalisation because they do not conform to a heteronormative narrative (the assumption that heterosexuality is normal and that anything other than heterosexuality is abnormal) or a cisgender narrative (people whose gender identity matches the sex that society assigned to them when they were born).

Many of the issues that are addressed on IDAHOBIT come from the ‘othering’ of a group because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, often based on prejudice and stereotypes.

While there is the tendency to talk about the LGBT+ community as a singular entity, we must of course remember and celebrate the diversity of LGBT+ people within the community.

People with minority sexual orientations, including people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, ambisexual, are clearly not a homogenous group – age, gender identity, race, disability, religion and many other characteristics underpin their identity.

The same is true for trans people, whose personhood goes beyond their gender identity. Many people may have a narrow understanding of what it means to be trans, and that is someone who undergoes gender reassignment surgery. But the very concept of a trans identity is filled with variances and differing experiences – there are trans men, trans women, people who identify as gender fluid, people who identify as neither male nor female, people who are androgynous.

In the same way that a disabled person is more than their disability and a black person is more than just the colour of their skin, LGBT+ people cannot be limited to one single identity category. To do so would be reductive and would risk producing narrow versions of what it means to be LGBT+.

Having multiple identities can result in different issues of discrimination occurring at the same time. For example, an older lesbian may face discrimination on multiple grounds – as a woman, as an older person and as someone of a minority sexual orientation. However, as a combination of all of these characteristics, an older lesbian might encounter a unique, compounded discrimination.

We must remember to that it is important for people to be recognised as diverse while not denying a commonality, for it is this commonality that unites people when celebrating Pride, or fighting for LGBT+ equality, especially during occasions like IDAHOBIT.

Recognising diversity within the LGBT+ community, it is also important to note that different LGBT+ groups will have different role models. Below are links to some of the role models identified for some of these groups by the University of Warwick Student Union LGBTUA+ Society.

Black and minority ethnic LGBT+ role models

Disabled LGBT+ role models

Women LGBT+ role models

Stonewall have also produced LGBT Voices, a collection of 25 stories from LGBT people who have lived through inequalities.

By acknowledging and valuing the diversity within the LGBT+ community, we can begin to appreciate and truly value the rich tapestry of humanity, and that the concept of an ‘other’ can be damaging to our society and to the individuals involved.

Logo for Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers

An Inclusive Assembly

As an inclusive organisation, the National Assembly for Wales is committed to challenging violence and discrimination and to promoting a culture of fairness, dignity and respect. We are proud to have been listed in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index each year since 2009, rising to third place in 2016 Index. We have been named the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for the last three years.

OUT-NAW, our award winning LGBT Workplace Equality Network, provide support for LGBT people across the organisation through peer support and mentoring and coaching. They also help us to promote LGBT equality and to consider LGBT equality in our work.

To find out more about working for the Assembly or to review our current vacancies please visit www.Assembly.Wales/jobs


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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month 2016

The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is Religion, Belief & Philosophy.

Logo for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month 2016

Much of the conversation around sexual orientation, gender identity and religion presents as mutually exclusive the rights of religious believers on the one hand, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on the other hand. Yet, every day millions of LGBT people around the world combine their faith with their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In November 2013, the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights hosted a discussion on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and religion. The event featured a 5-minute video with personal testimonies of religious lesbian and gay people from around the world. Also at the event, a report was presented by Human Rights Without Frontiers entitled LGBT People, the Religions & Human Rights in Europe. In spite of what a polarised debate might suggests, it was argued that the values of freedom, equality and human dignity are the common ground of both religious believers and the defenders of LGBT people’s human rights.

Throughout February, Stonewall, a UK charity promoting LGBT equality, will profile inspirational LGBT people with different faiths / beliefs. The profiles include people who are Sikh, Muslim, Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Humanist.

You can read more about LGBT History Month and the theme of religion, belief and philosophy in the LGBT History Month Magazine or visit the official LGBT History Month website for details of all activities, events and news.

Logo for Stonewall’s Top 100 Employers      Logo for OUT-NAW, the Assembly’s LGBT Workplace Equality Network

Photograph of Assembly LGBT staff and Allies holding the rainbow flag for LGBT History Month

Photograph of Assembly LGBT staff and Allies holding the rainbow flag for LGBT History Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the National Assembly we are committed to promoting LGBT equality. As such we are delighted to be ranked third in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2016 of the top LGBT-friendly organisations in the UK. We are also very proud to be named as the Top Public Sector Employer in Wales for LGBT people for the third year running.

You can find out more about our work promoting LGBT equality elsewhere on our blog, where we have a number of relevant articles, including LGBT History Month 2015, members of our staff who are Stonewall Cymru Role Models, a Stonewall Cymru student work placement, celebrating Bi Visibility Day, and promoting transgender equality.

For more information on how we value our people and for information on current work opportunities, visit: www.assembly.wales/jobs.

You could also visit the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales to see a display of some of Stonewall Cymru’s Welsh LGBT role models.


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We are proud to have retained the @Autism Access Award for the second year running!

The National Assembly for Wales’s estate has been awarded the National Autistic Society’s Access Award for the second year. The Award is a best practice standard for buildings and facilities, designed to provide assurance to people with autism and their families and carers.  It demonstrates that the facilities are autism-friendly, and that there is a commitment to making sure people with autism can access them.

The Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, and Sandy Mewies AM, holding the National Autistic Society Autism Access Award

The Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, and Sandy Mewies AM, holding the National Autistic Society Autism Access Award

“This is yet another acknowledgement that the National Assembly takes the issue of equality of access very seriously,” said Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler AM.

“For democracy to truly work in Wales, its law-making institution must engage with everyone in Wales, and that means ensuring that our facilities, services and information are accessible to all.”

Sandy Mewies AM, the Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for equalities issues, added:

“The Autism Access Award demonstrates that the Assembly is committed to being an accessible venue for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.”

Below are some of the things the Assembly did in order to achieve the accreditation:

  • Created a section on our website dedicated to visitors with autism.  The section provides information links to specifically designed resources in different formats;
  • Established designated quiet areas for people with autism to rest and de-stress;
  • Ensured relevant staff received disability confidence training, which includes a section on autism;
  • Identified Autism Champions from across the organisation;
  • Established links with National Autistic Society;
  • Created a feedback form, to enable continual feedback from visitors with autism.
Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award

Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award

Planning to visit the Assembly? Check out our website or contact us by phone, on 0300 200 6565, or email us at mailto:contact@assembly.wales.


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Public Health (Wales) Bill: Tattooing, body modification and intimate piercing

Article by Amy Clifton, National Assembly for Wales Research Service, In Brief blog.

On Tuesday, 8 December 2015 the Assembly will debate the Public Health (Wales) Bill in Plenary. The Health and Social Care Committee, tasked with scrutinising the legislative proposal, issued a Report on the Bill last week and made a number of recommendations and suggested amendments.

At the start of the consultation, the Assembly’s Outreach team conducted a national survey to ask the people of Wales what they thought of the Welsh Government proposals relating to e-cigarettes, special procedures and intimate piercing.

Much of the attention surrounding the Public Health (Wales) Bill has focused on e-cigarettes. However another interesting area of the Bill concerns special procedures and intimate piercing (Parts 3 and 4 of the Bill).

Special procedures

The Bill as drafted would create a mandatory licensing scheme for practitioners and businesses carrying out special procedures in Wales. The special procedures currently included are acupuncture, electrolysis, body piercing and tattooing, although the Bill would also allow Welsh Ministers to amend this list through secondary legislation.

Many stakeholders indicated in their evidence to the Committee that there is currently a significant lack of quality control within the tattoo and piercing industries. The Committee heard alarming reports that many procedures are being done by people with little, if any, knowledge of anatomy, infection control or healing processes.

Stakeholders also highlighted additional procedures they believe should be included the Bill. These included body modification (scarification, dermal implants, branding and tongue splitting), injection of liquid into the body (botox or dermal fillers), and laser treatments (tattoo removal or hair removal).

The Assembly Outreach team made a short video, interviewing practitioners across Wales:

Tattoo artists in the video express particular concern about branding, scarification, ‘extreme body modification’ (such as tongue splitting and penis splitting) and dermal implants. They explain that scarification (where a section of the skin is removed to leave a scar) is often performed dangerously.

The tattooists also say that branding is being done with blowtorches and bent coat hangers, and adapted soldering irons, and describe concerns about dermal implants, such as inserting horns and stars under the skin:

Inserting foreign objects into your body is not a good thing without some sort of legislative weight behind it to say, ‘That’s unsafe’, or, ‘Is the material safe?’ or ‘Has it been checked?’; ‘Is it sterile? Have you autoclaved it before you put it in there? Where did you get it from? Has this come out of a five-penny ball machine round the corner?’

Intimate piercing

The Bill proposes to set an age restriction of 16 years old for intimate piercing. It defines the intimate body parts as the anus, breast, buttock, natal cleft, penis, perineum, pubic mound, scrotum and vulva.

Whilst there is support for the principle of an age restriction, many stakeholders believe that 18 would be a more appropriate minimum age limit for intimate areas. For example, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) believes that 18 would be a more appropriate age restriction, as this is in line with the minimum age for tattooing, and reflects the level of maturity needed to make such decisions. Stakeholders also reasoned that an individual aged 16 is still growing and therefore the risk of damage to skin is greater. It was also noted that intimate body piercings require a higher standard of aftercare than tattoos, as they are potentially more susceptible to infection.

Dr Ncube supports a higher age limit, noting that there are long term implications with genital piercing. He gave a case study example of a father with a genital piercing, who was playing with his daughter, and his daughter accidentally kicked him.

The trauma that was caused by the genital piercing resulted in the formation of gangrene in his penis. It’s a condition called Fournier’s condition. Because of that, the scarring that occurred was profound. So, genital piercing is attended with considerable risks, and it’s not just the piercing alone that is important, but it’s the long-term implications of it.

There was also a strong message from stakeholders, including Public Health Wales, that tongue piercing should be included in this part of the Bill, with witnesses describing a high risk of complications, harm and infection.

Plenary debate

You can watch the debate on the Public Health (Wales) Bill live on senedd.tv or catch-up at a later date. For more information on the work of the Committee, visit their website on www.assembly.wales/seneddhealth

A photograph of people celebrating the Assembly receiving the National Autistic Society’s Access Award


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International Day of Disabled People – 3 December

Did you know that the Assembly is a disability confident organisation?

To mark International Day of Disabled People, we wanted to let you know about some of the support that we have available for disabled people.

We subscribe to the social model of disability. The social model looks at the barriers erected by society in terms of disabled people being able to access goods and services. It seeks to remove unnecessary barriers which prevent disabled people participating in society, accessing work and living independently. The social model asks what can be done to remove barriers to inclusion. It also recognises that attitudes towards disabilities create unnecessary barriers to inclusion and requires people to take proactive action to remove these barriers.

Positive about disabled people logo

Positive about disabled people logo

To encourage applications from disabled people, we operate the guaranteed interview scheme for disabled people. This scheme guarantees disabled people an interview if they meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy. We will make reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates invited to interview.

 

 

For our disabled staff:

    • Our staff policies are inclusive of disabled people. For example, we have a robust dignity at work policy to deal with inappropriate behaviour.
    • We have an active disability staff network called EMBRACE, who provide peer support to disabled staff and help us promote disability equality. They also help us to consider the needs of disabled people when making decisions and designing policies.
    • We provide a suite of disability-related training, including training that covers supporting disabled staff and visitors, deaf awareness and BSL training, autism awareness training, and dementia friendly training.
    • We have an onsite Occupational Health Nurse and access to an Employee Assistance Programme that can provide counselling services to staff.

 

Logo for Embrace, our disability staff network

Logo for Embrace, our disability staff network

Here are some quotes from disabled members of staff about their experience of working here:

    • “The willingness with which the Assembly engages with Embrace really makes me feel that it values my opinions and experiences as a disabled member of staff. I am proud to be a member of the network and feel that I am helping to make a real difference to the organisation and its staff.”
    • “My disability has a massive impact on my mobility and affects my working life. The support I have received from the Health and Safety Adviser has been outstanding. They have provided me with equipment to make my working day less painful and therefore more productive. The continuing support I receive from them helps me to remain working and I am extremely grateful to them.”
    • “I have been supported by the Occupational Health Nurse and have received counselling and stress management therapy through the Employee Assistance Programme. The Alexander Technique classes that have been arranged have also been extremely beneficial. Without all of this I doubt that I would still be working full time, if at all.”

 

For visitors, we ensure that our buildings are accessible and welcoming to disabled people.

    • We have lift access throughout our buildings;
    • Accessible parking is available;
    • There are loop systems throughout our buildings;
    • Our Front of House and Security staff have all undergone training on how to support disabled visitors;
    • We have Autism Champions across the organisation to welcome people with autism;
    • Some of our staff are trained in deaf awareness and British Sign Language;
    • We have a range of toilet facilities available, including a Changing Places facility, with a bed and a hoist.

 

We also have outreach, education and youth engagement teams that meet disabled people across Wales to tell them about the work of the Assembly and to listen to their views on issues that matter to them.

Photograph of members of the Mixed Up Group, a group of disabled young people from Swansea

Photograph of members of the Mixed Up Group, a group of disabled young people from Swansea

 

We have received recognition from external organisations that celebrate our accessibility.

  • Action on Hearing Loss has awarded us their Louder than Words Charter Mark for our commitment to supporting staff and visitors who are deaf or have a hearing loss. We also won their Action on Hearing Loss Cymru silver award at their Excellence Wales awards.

 

 

The National Autistic Society has awarded us their Access Award for supporting visitors with autism. We have a developed a webpage specifically for visitors with autism, trained Autism Champions and added de-stress toys to our quiet room.

 

A photograph of people celebrating the Assembly receiving the National Autistic Society’s Access Award

A photograph of people celebrating the Assembly receiving the National Autistic Society’s Access Award

Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award

Logo for the National Autistic Society Access Award


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The National Assembly for Wales becomes a Slate Ambassador

Here at the National Assembly for Wales, we are always looking at new ways of sharing information in exciting and innovative ways. This year, we started using a product called Slate (made by Adobe) to give summary versions of reports produced by our committees.

Our Slates have been extremely successful – so much so that Adobe have made us a Slate Ambassador!

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What is Slate?

Slate is a platform that allows organisations to create and share interactive reports, information and presentations. It has accessible user interfaces and cross platform compatibility, the Assembly has used Slate to share the extensive and complex work of Assembly committees in an informative and easily navigated format.

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Slate success

Following the recent inquiry into Alcohol and Substance Misuse in Wales, the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee wanted to share their findings. The Assembly used Slate to create a summary of the committee’s work. Using eye catching imagery and informative content, a cross platform report with a friendly user interface was created.

“We have been blown away by the amazing things people like (The National Assembly for Wales) are doing with the tool”   – The Slate Web Team

Slate has now been used to present the findings of a number of Assembly committees including the Finance Committee enquiry into whether the Ombudsman should have more powers and the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee enquiry into how poverty can be reduced in Wales.

Find out more about the work of Committees at the National Assembly for Wales


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Assembly shines at Sparkle

By Kelly Harris, Youth Engagement Officer

On Saturday 7 November, myself and Craig Stephenson, Assembly Director and Chair of our LGBT staff network, took a stall to Swansea Sparkle to talk to the public about the work of the Assembly and how they could become involved.

Swansea Sparkle was organised by Tawe Butterflies and South Wales Police, which provided an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate equality and diversity. The aim was to break down barriers between the public and the Transgender community by bringing organisations from across Wales and the U.K. together to showcase the support, information and advice available to the community.

It was a really interesting day and we had lots of interest about the Assembly. Many people were unaware that they had five Assembly Members whose job it is to represent them in the Assembly, so it was the perfect opportunity to provide them with our Explore the Assembly: Your Assembly Member Guide and chat with them about what issues they might face in their communities. Two Assembly Members came to the stall to say hello and have their picture taken with us – Julie James (Swansea West Constituency) and Peter Black (South West Wales Regional) – it was great to have their support at the event.

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Julie James

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

Sparkle 2015 Assembly staff with Assembly Member Peter Black

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk to a young person who is currently transitioning. I felt very honoured that they shared their story with me, and it was interesting to hear their experiences – both the happy and the sad parts. There have been big steps taken to make sure that the voices of the Transgender community are heard, but it is very clear that there is still a lot of work to be done. I took the time to make sure that the young person knew of all the different ways they could become involved in the work of the Assembly, even down to how hard the Assembly works to make sure our workforce is diverse and fully representative of Welsh communities. It was great to get their feedback on what else they thought the Assembly could work on, which will be fed back to our excellent Equality Team.

I also explained about who the Children’s Commissioner for Wales is and what their job is, so that if they felt they needed someone to help them in the future, they have someone else they can contact. It is important for all young people in Wales to know about the Children’s Commissioner.

Overall it was an excellent day – well organised and very welcoming! I can’t wait to go back next year!

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall's No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge

Attendees at the Sparkle event with Stonewall’s No Bystanders anti-bullying pledge

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