News Roundup: April 2000

Local Group Shock

Edinburgh group calls it a day Edinburgh Bisexual Group (EBG) has decided to call it a day. EBG was the second oldest bi group and has been running for 16 years. Kate Fearnley said, “Meetings had dwindled to the point where the group was no longer viable, and rather than let things struggle on we decided to do things properly.”

They are holding a wake at Nexus Cafe in the LGB Centre on Monday 13 March from 7pm, to which all former EBG members, friends and anyone else who’d like to come are invited.

The Edinburgh Bisexual Phoneline and the Bisexual Penpal Scheme will also end. They’re doing their best to let everyone know and the phone will remain connected until the end of March with a message referring people to the London helpline. The remaining EBG bank balance will go to BiCon and the London bi helpline. The future of the bisexual archive is unclear. If anyone has a home for it please contact Alison at BM Boog, London WC1N 3XX, email [deleted old email address from this article – Site Admin]

16… nearly there!
Commons votes for equal age of consent

On February 22, MPs voted 263 to 102 in favour of equalising the age of consent for sex between men with heterosexual acts. This is the third time The Commons has voted in favour of equalising the age of consent, with the House of Lords rejecting the Sexual Offences ( Amendment ) Bill. The Government has hinted that the will invoke the Parliament Act to ensure the act is made law.

Another Step Forward
Europeans vote ‘no’ to queer-phobia

On Wednesday 26 January parliamentarians from across Europe voted to recommend that sexual orientation be one of the prohibited grounds for discrimination in the European Convention on Human Rights. The “deliberative body” in which these parliamentarians debated has no powers to force their recommendations through, but this is a first step towards having non-straight orientations (but also straights) protected by the European convention. The European Convention of Human Rights will have legal force in the UK courts from 2nd October. How it will be received here has yet to be tested, and the question of orientation will be particularly vexatious, doubtless.

Scots Youth First Scottish YouthCon to take place

YouthCon, a gathering for bisexual, transgendered, lesbian and gay people under 25 in Scotland will be taking place in Edinburgh during the weekend of March 10th-12th. The weekend will include workshops, entertainment and a social space for people to meet. Workshops about bisexuality have been included in the schedule and will look at: W Is there a bisexual community? W What are ‘bisexual issues’ anyway? W Where do bi people fit into the queer community? The cost for the whole of the weekend is £10 excluding accommodation. For contact details see page 12.

BiCon Goes Global

Jen Yockney, Top Dog of BiCon 2000 (and BCN collective member too!) answers a few concerns about taking on an International BiCon (IBC) as part of the BiCon programme:

What practical changes will it mean?
There’ll be a stream or two (subject to demand) of international workshops. There will hopefully be slightly more people coming. We’re making it as clear as we can in all our publicity that the conference will be in English and not a poly-lingual event.

Will the number of overseas visitors spoil BiCon? I doubt it.
We’re starting too late to do a really big overseas putsch and our approach to what BiCon should involve is driven by UK ones, not IBC’s. You can still expect silly games and so on – it’s not about to become a weekend of heavy intellectual seminars on research and liberation (though there will perhaps be a bit more of that sort of thing.)

Will it bankrupt BiCon, what with the extra space and promo work?
No. We have some extra spaces for workshops which we can use for free. The drawback is they’re on the 1st and 2nd floor of a building with no lift, so less accessible. In the past facilitators at IBC had had free registration and suchlike. We intend to carry on the UK BiCon tradition of not doing this, rather than adopt a practice which we think encourages people to lead sessions for the wrong reasons.

It looks good for IBC not to skip a year but are there any benefits to BiCon?
Yup, credibility if nothing else – e.g. we made the front page of the Pink Paper which normally does its best to ignore BiCon. We will also hopefully see what a slightly bigger BiCon feels like compared to the 200-ish attendances of recent years.

…and what about Mardi Gras?
It looks like Manchester Mardi Gras is back on again after talk late last year of it being cancelled. We’re talking to the people who are making the new festival happen and hope to join up, even if just for a parade or something like that. With it being a smaller Mardi Gras than usual a bunch of bisexuals joining in can make an even bigger impact!

Erotic Art Awards

The 7th Erotic Oscars awards will take place on Saturday 6th May from 9 p.m., presented by Mat Fraser plus Annie Sprinkle, Betty Dodson, Kim Airs and Lasse Braun.

Performance art, striptease and erotic fashion shows will culminate in the awards giving public recognition to people who choose sexuality as their work or medium. At midnight the press will leave and The Sex Maniacs “Confusion Ball” will run until dawn.

This year’s theme will be Victorian and Dadaist and guests will be expected to make the effort to dress appropriately. There will be many areas with different atmospheres including a queer space with a bisexual room, a professionally equipped dungeon, sideshows, dance areas in assorted styles, chill out space and a Victorian street scene. The venue at London Bridge will have wheelchair access and be disability friendly.

The Sexual Freedom Coalition (SFC) will be supporting the event and it will have their etiquette code. Stewards will be on hand to reassure, and deal with anyone clueless. The event will raise funds for The Outsiders club, helping disabled people find partners. Tickets are £28 each for parties of seven or more, £38 for individuals, ½ price for concessions including nurses, or help as a volunteer for part of the evening. Tables are also available.

To book or for more information contact The Leydig Trust, PO Box 4ZB, London W1A 4ZB, telephone 020 7499 0808, e-mail [email protected] The charity striptease semi-finals for the Erotic Oscars will take place on Thursday 23rd March from 7:30 ‘til midnight in Covent Garden in London. Performers will be from all over the country, professional and amateur, male, female or possibly other genders. Tickets and information are available from same places as for the ball. Tickets are £12, £9 for concessions and nurses, and tables may be booked. The venue will be wheelchair accessible, have a bar and hot food will be served.

Grant Denkinson – who wears a hat as Outreach Officer for the SFC when not editing BCN

Equality Bill passes in South Africa

The “Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Bill” has been passed by the upper and lower houses of South Africa’s National Assembly. The Bill includes outlawing homophobic bias and hate speech. However, the removal of HIV/AIDS as a protected category due to pressure from insurance companies is a setback for HIV campaigners and activists.

Trans MP makes maiden speech in NZ Parliament

Georgina Beyer, the world’s first transsexual MP, made her maiden speech to the New Zealand Parliament on February 8th. The speech included support for the rights of LGBT people.

County Cork considers group partnership rights.

Partnership rights including hospital visitation, improved placement on housing waiting lists, and the rights to purchase joint graves are to be considered by Cork County Council, Ireland, under a proposed domestic partnership bill. The bill could include two or more people in a committed relationship sharing a household.

Bi mother of three killed

The bodies of Gary and Shirley Allen were discovered by their teenage son at their family home in Milton Keynes. Shirley Allen had been strangled and her husbands body was discovered with a ligature around his neck. Mrs Allen had recently admitted to having an affair with another woman, and it is reported that her husband had become upset by his wife’s confession.

Livingstone enters the ring

As we went to press, Ken Livingstone entered the race for London Mayor as an Independent candidate. In the 1980’s Livingstone publicly argued that “everyone is bisexual.”