BiCon Decisions, 2018

Minutes of the 2018 BiCon Decision-Making Plenary.
Held on 4 August 2018, University of Salford.

The DMP is the annual debating session of BiCon, the UK’s biggest annual bi event. Most of the weekend is not this formal but this is the section of the event where changes to the rules of how it is run are debated.

1. Welcome and introductions
Doug introduced himself as chair and Fred as minute-taker, and explained the purpose and function of the decision-making plenary.

2. Attendance
85 people attended this plenary, including the chair and minute-taker.

3. Previous minutes
The minutes of last year’s decision-making plenary were accepted unanimously. https://bicon.org.uk/for-attendees/dmp-minutes/minutes-from-the-bicon-decision-making-meeting-2017/

4. BiCon Continuity update
4.1. Elizabeth explained the purpose of BiCon Continuity Limited: to look after BiCon’s money so that there continues to be a BiCon. Elizabeth introduced the five current trustees – Elizabeth, Hessie, Ian, Karen and Natalya – and gave an update. BiCon Continuity currently has thirteen members and has room for 25.
4.2. BiCon Continuity is currently in a position where bi groups around the country can approach for small funding grants.
Funded this year:
☑ Purple Prose (importing more copies because first batch sold out )
☑ Bi Wales
☑ Bi Pride
4.3. BiCon Continuity joined ILGA and has become an active member of ILGA Europe. Two members have attended ILGA strategy meetings. Elizabeth thanked Hilde for promoting a bi presence Europe-wide.
4.4. BiCon Continuity is working on setting up bank accounts for future BiCons, which will save considerable time and effort for teams, and wrangling PayPal.
4.5. BiCon Continuity wants more members, especially those with skills around longer-term oversight. Contact info@biconcontinuity.org.uk
4.6. Future things:
☑ If your organisation has bought or been asked to obtain public liability insurance to attend Pride, please tell BiCon Continuity: they’re trying to get a broad policy that they can add bi groups to through the year, but are having trouble finding insurance because the insurers say the risk is too low.
☑ There have been good responses to calls for people to run future BiCons. Please continue to contact BiCon Continuity if you’d like to help run one – they can put potential team members in touch with each other.
4.7. One member resigned this year, and a new one joined: BiCon Continuity thanks both these people.
4.8. The meeting thanked the two sets of people who contributed to this BiCon happening: one group found and booked a venue; the team present at BiCon this time picked up the threads and made BiCon happen.
The meeting thanked BiCon Continuity for the update.

5. Funding BiCon
Rowan addressed the meeting. BiCon 2018 is projected to make a planned loss of about £3k-£5k, to avoid cutting BiCon to bare bones, and to make sure the access fund had enough support. This loss was possible because BiCon Continuity keeps BiCon’s money safe and there was a surplus from previous years.
This cannot happen every year. BiCon needs to balance the need for access for people who’d struggle to afford to come with increasing venue and other costs.
Rowan is asking the community to think of ways we can become financially safer without increasing costs too much – e.g. fundraising for access fund (c.£2k per year); marketing BiCon (something teams often struggle with)
If anybody has ideas or wants to help, they should email 2018@bicon.org.uk and this will be passed on to future teams.
This suggestion was welcomed in the room.
There was some discussion about the sliding scale. It may be that people on higher incomes are paying less than the appropriate amount on the scale. This may be because it was not clear that people should take their whole income into account when deciding what to pay. It may also be that people do not realise that the lower bands are subsidised by the upper ones. Rowan emphasised that it is an important BiCon principle that people who need a subsidy to attend should have one.
Rowan said that future teams are thinking about how to word their sliding scale to help with this, and this was welcomed.

6. Guideline changes
The BiCon organisers’ guidelines can be found at https://bicon.org.uk/for-organisers/guidelines/

6.1. Guidelines preamble
Natalya proposed this change:
Current wording
“Changes to these guidelines should be passed by simple majority by two successive BiCons.”
New proposed wording
“Changes to these guidelines should be passed by a BiCon plenary. Where any change passes by less than a 75% majority, it should be returned to the next year’s BiCon plenary for a second vote. On that second vote it needs a further simple majority to be successful.”
Reasoning for guideline changes
The two year rule was bought in before BiCons routinely had a pre-decision making plenary session to discuss and refine proposals and a separate decision making plenary.
This change provides safeguards against a “topical issue” causing inappropriate, overly-rapid, hot-headed or sabotage style changes to the guidelines while still allowing simple and non-controversial changes such as updating smoking issues to reflect the law to pass unhindered.
This change itself will require two Decision Making Plenaries to vote on it.
Clarifications during the debate:
During the last ten years, there were very few votes that weren’t unanimous or with one or two abstentions or votes against.
Teams may say that they can’t follow a particular guideline, in exceptional circumstances, as long as they make this very clear to Continuity when they are agreeing to run a BiCon, and to BiCon attenders.
BiCon organisers tend to follow guidelines that are pending a second DMP’s ratification.
Vote: lots in favour; 3 against. This change will come back for a further vote at the next BiCon.
6.2. Section B.10 (Disability)
Natalya proposed this change:
Current wording
“BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities, including those with invisible impairments. BiCon literature published before the event (including the website) should give a clear description of the accessibility of the site being used, details of adjustments BiCon can make on request, as well as details of how someone can contact BiCon with specific accessibility requests. Accommodation should be provided which is suitable for people with mobility or sensory impairments. BiCon literature should also be made available in alternative formats on request. In planning the programme, consideration should be given to the need for adequate breaks between sessions. The Equalities Fund [see B15] is available to fund additional costs of attending BiCon that may be incurred by people with disabilities (e.g. carer’s costs) and this should be publicised appropriately.”
Proposed wording for Section B.10
“BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for disabled people, including those with invisible impairments. BiCon literature published before the event (including the website) should give a clear description of the accessibility of the site being used, details of adjustments BiCon can make on request, as well as details of how someone can contact BiCon with specific accessibility requests. Accommodation should be provided which is suitable for people with mobility or sensory impairments. BiCon literature should also be made available in alternative formats on request. In planning the programme, consideration should be given to the need for adequate breaks between sessions. The Equalities Fund [see B15] is available to fund additional costs of attending BiCon that may be incurred by disabled people (e.g. carer’s costs) and this should be publicised appropriately.”
Reasoning for change to B.10
We made a mistake in the 2012 drafting. “People with disabilities” wording makes us looks politically and practically less competent and aware of disability issues than we actually are. This is just an update/correction to the best current wording which will more accurately match our political and practical position.
Vote: passed unanimously. This change will come back for a further vote at the next BiCon.
6.3. BiCon Continuity Ltd:
Natalya proposed this change. BiCon Continuity’s position has been agreed in previous DMPs but the guidelines have not yet been updated to reflect these. The proposed changes reflect what we’ve asked Continuity to do and teams to do in relation to them.
New preamble
After the existing first two paragraphs about the guidelines:
“BiCon Continuity Ltd (“Continuity”) is the charitable company created by the bisexual community between 2011 and 2014. More information is on their website at https://biconcontinuity.org.uk/about/”
Updating Section C
Proposal to amend C.1 and split C.2 into a new C.2 and C.3 to differentiate the topics.
Current wording for C.1
“BiCon should produce detailed accounts within three months after the event. These should be published and be made readily available to interested parties. [7]”
Proposed wording for C.1
“BiCon should produce detailed accounts within three months of the final venue bill being paid. These should be sent to Continuity to be published and be made readily available to interested parties. [7]”
Reasoning
This is to reflect that sometimes venues take a long time to send an appropriate bill, so gives teams a fair timescale after that and that Continuity now exists, owns http://bicon.org.uk, and is hosting previous BiCons websites and any BiCon information.
Current wording for C.2
“If BiCon makes a surplus, this should be passed on to future BiCon organisers. If the surplus reaches a higher total than is needed to run the next BiCon it should be donated to other appropriate organisations. Decisions about donations should be made at a BiCon plenary. [8]”
Proposed wording for new C.2
“If BiCon makes a surplus after venue and other suppliers have been paid, this should be passed on to Continuity to be made available to future BiCon organisers. [8]”
Reasoning for new C.2
“This reflects current (over the last several years’) practice of giving money to Continuity rather than directly to future organising teams. This also ensures organisers are clear about what they need to do to enable them and Continuity to comply with legal charitable obligations around money that Continuity/BiCons have.”
Proposed wording for new C.3
“If the surplus reaches a higher total than is needed to fund the next two BiCons, Continuity may allocate funds to bi+ activities in the UK in line with their charitable objects and recommendations of BiCon plenaries.”
Reasoning for new C.3
This clarifies the current practice of previous DMPs voting to allow Continuity to use ‘excess’ surplus to fund other bi+ activities in line with our charitable objects. This confirms that Continuity answer to charity law then a BiCon plenary around requests.
Vote: The addition to the preamble and changes to section C were passed unanimously. These changes will come back for a further vote at the next BiCon.
6.4. Updating Section D.1
Natalya proposed this change.
D.1 Current wording
“There should be ample opportunity for attendees to give their views of BiCon. There should be a feedback form for the benefit of attendees and future BiCon organisers. [9]”
D.1 Proposed wording
“There should be ample opportunity for attendees to give their views of BiCon. There should be a feedback form for the benefit of attendees and future BiCon organisers. Feedback results should be shared with future BiCon teams via Continuity. [9]”
D.1 Reasoning
There have been occasional issues of teams refusing to supply feedback data they hold. This makes it clear what post-event obligations teams have to the community.
Vote: passed unanimously. This change will come back for a further vote at the next BiCon.
6.5. New Section D items and a restructure of previous content
Current D.2 and D.3 wording
“D.2 Decisions about who should run future BiCons, BiCon surpluses, and any changes to these guidelines should be made at a BiCon plenary.
D.3 Plenaries should be minuted and the results reported in BCN and on uk.bi (or their equivalents) and be readily available. Where it impossible to keep such decisions for BiCon they should be put up for discussion in these forums. [10]”
Proposed new Section D wordings
“D.3 Decisions about who should run future BiCons and how BiCon surpluses will be made by Continuity in line with their legal obligations, charitable objectives and strongly guided by decisions of BiCon plenaries.
D.4 Continuity may make independent decisions where no plenary decision exists but will generally only contradict plenaries when required to do so by law, regulations, or to protect BiCon’s assets and reputation.
D.5 Plenaries should be minuted and the results reported on bicon.org.uk or its equivalents [10].”
Reasoning for new Section D items
This is largely a restructure to cover existing points with updated tweaks for outdated info, then mostly about
● Reflecting Continuity’s existence,
● Continuity’s ownership of bicon.org.uk,
● The moral/legal approach Continuity take to decision making including the situations where we would override a DMP and
● reflects the outcome of various votes across various DMPs as minuted at https://bicon.org.uk/for-attendees/dmp-minutes/
During the debate it was suggested that the word ‘generally’ should be removed from D4. This was voted on: 21 in favour of removing the word; 32 against.
Vote: The changes to section D, as proposed, were passed unanimously. These changes will come back for a further vote at the next BiCon.
6.6. Proposed new section B19
Symon proposed a change to insert new section B19, as follows:
“B19. Partnerships with external bodies
Organisers should take into account the principles outlined in Part B when working in financial partnership with external bodies. This includes, but is not limited to, inviting external bodies to run stands and stalls at BiCon or to advertise in BiCon literature.
Organisations that share the principles outlined in Part B should generally be welcome to run stands and stalls, subject to practical and spatial constraints. Organisers should not allow financial partnerships of any sort with bodies that oppose or work against these principles. In cases in which this is a matter of interpretation, organisers should consult widely before making decisions. No financial partnerships should be entered into with arms companies or armed forces. For the avoidance of doubt, people employed by such bodies are of course welcome to attend BiCon as individuals, on the same basis as anyone else.”
Reasoning
‘Partnerships’ is intended mainly to mean stalls/stands at BiCons, although it could cover other things too.
There seems to have been an increase in stands and stalls from external organisations in recent years. We need to acknowledge that there’s a diversity of views about these, and discuss concerns respectfully. We recognise that it’s hard for organisers to make decisions where this is controversial (e.g. police or Home Office).
The proposed text specifically mentions arms companies because they’ve got specific campaigns about LGBT inclusion while selling arms to governments which enact and enforce anti-LGBT laws. Armed forces because they’re targeting recruitment of LGBT+ people and not addressing LGBT-phobic bullying.
Points made during debate
This proposal had been discussed at the pre-DMP, where it was suggested that it be split in to two parts.
Suggestion to remove the word ‘financial’ to make it apply to other support or goods in kind.
A previous BiCon organiser said they had not been aware of the need to consider this issue thoroughly, and would have welcomed a pointer to do so in the Guidelines.
There seems to be support for the general principle, but the matter is complicated. There could be a workshop about this at next BiCon.
Next year’s team should consider this as a matter in progress, and it was suggested that they should publicise a list of organisations involved in this way. This year’s team has a policy which it is happy to share with future teams.
There were several suggestions to reword the proposal and to vote on it in different parts. There was no clear consensus on these procedural matters, and time for the meeting was running out.
Vote: A vote was taken to defer this decision to next BiCon: deferral was agreed by 55 votes to 15.

7. Future BiCons
7.1. BiCon 2020
Rachel put herself forward to run BiCon 2020. This bid was welcomed by the meeting with wide acclamation.
7.2. BiCon 2019
Claire is leading the team for BiCon 2019 in Lancaster, and gave a brief update. Dates will be released very soon and plans are going well. This update was welcomed by the meeting with wide acclamation.

8. Other Business
8.1. A reminder that the government is consulting on reform to the Gender Recognition Act for England and Wales: the consultation is open until 19 October at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004.
A suggestion was made that if people did not have time to write a full response, they could just say “I support trans rights” and “I support nonbinary rights”, which would be counted in the official record of responses.
The following resources may be helpful:
The Gender Recognition Act Consultation – What You Need To Know
https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/come-out-trans-equality
8.2. Rach has volunteered to develop basic accessibility guidelines for session organisers. This was welcomed by the room. Please get in touch via info@biconcontinuity.org.uk
8.3. Thanks from the floor to the chair and helpers, and from the chair to everybody else.