News Pages: January 2000
UK to host International Bisexual Conference
At the end of November, the organisers behind the 6th International Bisexual Conference which was due to be held in the summer of 2000 in Rotterdam, Holland confirmed the event was cancelled. The Dutch organisers cited problems of finding an affordable venue for the event as one of the main reasons behind the decision to cancel IBC6.
They contacted the UK BiCon 2000 organisers who after much consideration (and debate with the online bi community) agreed BiCon in Manchester would expand to a more international level. There will be more on this in BCN issue 42.
Group Sex Law challenged in European Court
A 51-year-old UK man, who was given a two year suspended sentence for Gross Indecency in 1996, has taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights. His plea is based on Article 8 of The European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the charge and conviction for his participation in sexual acts with more than one other consenting adult male in the privacy of his own home constituted a breach of privacy, and discrimination on the grounds that lesbians and heterosexuals could do likewise without prosecution.
If the court rules in his favour, this would have an effect on men engaged in group sex in private. It is unknown if a prosecution would occur if two men engaged in sex with each other in their own home but in company of other women or men.
First European BiCon announced
The team behind the cancelled Netherlands IBC6 have announced that they intend to concentrate on running the first European Regional Bisexual Conference in 2001. It is expected that the event will take place in Rotterdam to coincide with the Cultural Capital of Europe event, and incorporate “Pink City” as part of the event.
Section 28 Repeal defeated in Lords
Amendments to the Local Government Act announced in the Queen’s speech included the repeal of Section 28, the controversial law which outlawed Local Education Authorities from “Promoting homosexuality”. However as BCN went to press the result of a vote in the House of Lords was announced, and the move to abolish it was defeated.
Although no Local Authority has been charged under Section 28, its confused wording has effectively lead Local Authorities and teachers to over self-censor from providing advice and support to LGBT students on issues relating to sex education and bullying in school. The Government had earlier hinted that they would dump the repeal if it threatens the passage of other amendments to the Act.
LGB campaigning group Stonewall have developed a campaign and media pack for anyone wishing to support the repeal of Section 28. Contact: Stonewall, 16 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AA Tel: 020 7336 8860, email: [email protected]
Popstarz, the club favoured by London bis on Friday nights, now has a “pre-Popstarz” drinking venue, the Liquid Lounge. Handily located adjacent to King’s Cross Thameslink station (building on the right), its launch was helped by coinciding with the refurbishment of nearby London Friend, where the London Bi Group has its Friday meetings.
Thus lots of bisexuals were in the area looking for somewhere to socialize that was more congenial than Central Station. They’ve found it. Bright colours. Deep, comfortable sofas, and lots of them. Drinks not too expensive. Pool table. Dance space. Music not so loud that you can’t talk, at least early on. Late licence (’til 1a.m. Saturdays, 3 a.m. Sundays, 2 a.m. rest of the week). And free entry, even after 11 p.m.
That was my first visit, when I wandered in out of the rain and found around 30 known London bis there. The second visit was the same, except the DJ was playing with his new toy – smoke machine – and filling the area below him with smoke. Very difficult to play pool when the balls become invisible. Both times the music was generic inoffensive dancy stuff, or as the bar’s policy has it, “no techno, no house, no rap, no trance”. The next week, however, a new DJ was using strobe and smoke semipermanently. Could hardly see anyone, let alone lip-read them. Hopefully though he’ll be sacked, as everyone for once agreed about his music – it was crap.
Still, it’s a large, cosy place to meet, and appears to be being taken over by bis. It’s about time there was a recognised bi pub in a city as large as London. Seeing as London Friend has been repainted in the same smoke-yellowed dirty colour that it was before (I admit the purple woodwork outside is very nice, and the door is now wheelchair-accessible), I predict that LBG will have trouble enticing its members back into the fold.
What Price Fame?
Poppy poses a question for BCN readers:
I have an offer for you: be my subject!
I’m a journalist and I want you to be my interviewee for a piece on bisexuality. What is your answer? Yes? Do you see this as an opportunity for publicity that promises to be more than your Warhol-ordained 15 minutes of fame, but also be a boon to the visibility of the bi community? Or are you hesitating? Are you casting your mind back to all that voyeuristic exploitation that fills many broadcasting hours and column-inches, and declining my offer, dispensing with the ‘politely’ for now too?
If you say yes, what have you let yourself in for? Will I turn out to be a harassed underpaid researcher, on a high-pressure low-budget talk show, who will promise anything just to get the guests on? Do you find that my Springer or Kilroy-Silk, just trying to help the audience to understand, relentlessly applies ‘commonsense’ mainstream small-mindedness to the intimate, soft parts of your lifestyle, and verbally eviscerates you?
You might say ‘No’, and throw in a piece of your mind for good measure. All about how despicable the business of journalism is: a ‘profession’ that sucks its subjects for material, then distorts that material and throws it to the wolves of a prurient public, for profit.
In that case you will never know. Perhaps you passed up the chance to explain your views and experiences to millions of people. You might have struck a blow for bi sympathy and visibility a thousand times more effective than a dozen political meetings and scads of words in a puny newsletter like BCN! (Hey! – Ed)
Or maybe you do know. Might you discover that the journalist did find some willing interviewees, who managed in the coverage to look both outlandish and off-putting, made to look like freaks in a sideshow. Perhaps you might have been able to produce a better image for bi-dom. Drat! There is no going back.
But let me move out of rhetorical mode. As you read this you may know exactly what the answer is, because you’ve been in this position. I’d like to read about what happened.
The fact is that exploratory offers come from journalists, researchers, producers and cranks to BCN and various bi websites all the time. We are living through a period where permissiveness and prurience have come together to provide the media with plenty of cheap subject matter. Weird sex is, in media-speak, “sexy”. We at BCN need to decide what to do with this interest. We feel accountable and protective about you, the community. In most cases, the timescales involved would preclude this newsletter from being a realistic method of reaching potential subjects, but my view is that we should ask you. Just to get things started – my personal preference is to give these offers a chance. The main preoccupation for the community seems to be acceptance. Sympathetic (and, indeed not-sosympathetic) media exposure is one of the most important prerequisites. I would prefer to maximise the chances for a willing interviewee to explore the background of the journalists, and the medium they work for, and see if terms can be reached to achieve some decent bi coverage. What do you think?
Reading Bisexual Group
A new bisexual group will soon be starting up in central Reading, hoping to be a focus for bisexuals in Berkshire and the surrounding area. It will take the form of social gatherings, probably in a Reading gay pub (the Wynford Arms). It will be on a weeknight when the pub is otherwise quiet, probably monthly. There won’t initially be a specific discussion topic each time, but we’ll see what people want. As well as targeting bisexuals who are already ‘on the scene’ (through BCN, Internet bi groups, etc.) we will be trying to reach out to the Berkshire residents who aren’t, through leaflets in the local newspaper, libraries and support phonelines. We don’t yet have a start date worked out, but information about the group can be got from the London Bisexual Phoneline (see listings) and more will be in the next BCN. For more information keep an eye on http://bi.org/~rbg/ Oliver
Bisexual’s Lesbian partner stabs male love rival
A Scottish court heard how Bisexual Natasha Ross’s Lesbian partner Louise McGeoch stabbed Ross’s male lover Jian Carlo Palisco in the leg after McGeoch had found out about their relationship. At the time of the attack Ross and McGeoch were living together in a flat in Glasgow. McGeoch had returned to the flat after a row only to find out that Ross and Palisco had slept together.
French Bisexual murder case
Two French Bisexual women pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a Strasbourg Court in November. Police charged Marie-France Rosseau, and Delphine Ducourneau with the murder of Marie-France’s husband Thierry Villain, after it was revealed that both women had agreed to a have sex with him in an attempt to conceive a child.
It is alleged that the two women drugged Villain’s coffee with sleeping pills and then strangled him with electrical wire. The two women were charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter citing Villain’s unreasonable behaviour.
HIV rates rise by 30% in three years.
Figures recently released showed that there was an increase in new HIV infections by 30% in the last three years with up to 10,000 people unaware that they have the virus.
New infection rates among heterosexuals were almost equal to those of Gay and Bisexual men in the first half of 1999. Nearly a third of HIV infections in the UK are among black communities.
It has been claimed that the high cost of combination therapeutic drug regimes for patients has reduced money for preventative programmes, such as outreach work and education in different communities.
Apart from the peer review project based in the North East, there are no preventative programmes or educational outreach aimed specifically for men and women who have sex with men and women.