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Council plans to work with LGBTQ community to make facilities safer spaces

News release from 10/10/2018

CAMBRIDGE City Council has announced it plans to work with the Encompass Network, a network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Questioning (LGBTQ) people to take forward its pilot work to date on the Safer Spaces initiative.

The council is one of six organisations signed up to the Safer Spaces pilot project to provide safer spaces for LGBTQ people.  Safer Spaces aims to provide LGBTQ people in Cambridge and surrounding areas with places where they can feel safe, welcome and supported.

The council has announced in its Single Equalities Scheme, adopted at the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting last week (4 October), its plan to sign up to the live Safer Spaces project and work with the Encompass Network to identify areas in which it can improve.

The Single Equality Scheme strategy sets out Cambridge City Council’s proposed objectives related to equality and diversity work over the three year period from 2018 to 2021.  These are:

  1. To further increase its understanding of the needs of Cambridge’s growing and increasingly diverse communities so that it can target its services effectively;
  2. To continue to work to improve access to and take-up of council services from all residents and communities;
  3. To work towards a situation where all residents have equal access to public activities and spaces in Cambridge and are able to participate fully in the community;
  4. To tackle discrimination, harassment and victimisation and ensure that people from different backgrounds living in the city continue to get on well together;
    5. To ensure that the council’s employment and procurement policies and practices are non-discriminatory and to work towards a more representative workforce within the council.

Amendments to the council’s Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy were also approved, to ensure it is compliant with the current legislation. 

Cllr Anna Smith, Executive Councillor for Communities, said: “The sole reason for changing the policy was to ensure that it is consistent and compliant with the current law.

“Some aspects of the recent public debate have not reflected this. As a result, I would particularly like to reassure anyone who has been alarmed by some aspects of the reporting of this issue, that Cambridge is committed to upholding equality for all residents, visitors and workers.

“The council's equality's policy restates our continued commitment to the Equalities Pledge: ‘We believe in the dignity of all people and their right to respect and equality of opportunity. We value the strength that comes with difference and the positive contribution that diversity brings to our community. Our aspiration is for Cambridge and the wider region to be safe, welcoming and inclusive.

“In the context of some recent claims made about the policy update, I would particularly emphasise that the council welcomes and supports trans people.

That is precisely why we are planning to sign up to the next phase of the Safer Spaces initiative which will ensure that council services and facilities are spaces where LGBTQ people feel safe, welcome and supported. This commitment underpins the council’s, and my own, position on LGBTQ equality.”

Antoinette Jackson, Chief Executive, said: “Following this decision to update our policy, we will work with equalities groups locally to ensure they are all aware of the amended policy, and to listen to any feedback they may have on potential impacts that may inform how we implement the policy going forward. 

“We will work with them to identify ways we can support them most effectively, and make sure that this feedback informs our future actions.”

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