Monro, Surya, Richardson, D. and McNulty, A. (2010) ‘You could see people squirming in their seats’: Sexuality and its Discontents in UK Local Authorities. In: BSA Annual Conference 2010 - Inequalities & Social Justice, 7th - 9th April 2010, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK. (Unpublished)

In recent years the UK has seen a raft of new legislation concerning equalities and human rights. This legislation, and the policy drivers issued by central government in relation to equalities, is interpreted in varied ways by the local authorities that are tasked with implementing them. Implementation is structured by the organisational cultures present in these institutions and their partner agencies, and in some cases, by the existence of overt or covert homophobia and biphobia.
This paper presents findings from an ESRC funded study of the impact of recent policy changes. Whilst someauthorities have a long history of sexualities equalities work, heterosexism appears embedded in the cultures of others. This is apparent in the ways in which equalities is discursively framed (or erased), the location of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equalities at the bottom of the hierarchy of equalities initiatives, resistance to the imposition of LGBT equalities initiatives by staff, and the organisational cultures in which they operate. In some instances, overt homo/biphobia is evident, often reflecting the wider environments in which local authorities operate. Local authority employees in powerful positions may give clear messages to staff on challenging such resistance, but LGBT equalities work can be sabotaged by other individuals, often elected councillors. The tensions that officers have to manage concerning sexualities equalities work, between the remits of elected councillors and the requirements of equalities policies driven by statute, are noticeable. It appears that local authorities remain a site in which heterosexism and homo/biphobia are contested.

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