Saturday 24 April 2010

Idle wossnames

I've been looking at the upcoming NUS LGBT conference.  As ever, NUS is a source of despair if you're an activist interested in getting things done rather than furthering a career in centre-right politics.

So we have an order paper for the weekend of the various weighty motions to be debated.  Given the B in LGBT is the least well supported strand in mainstream LGBT work, what do they have to say about it?  What proposals, opinions, and tasks for their executive and huge membership in the coming year?

Erm... not a lot.  The 'b' word does crop up, but the only place where it is meaningfully used is in a motion that sucks up to biphobia, redefining the remits of the bi space at conference, and it would seem to be doing so in capitulation to the biphobic "bi=binary" myth.
Conference resolves: The Bisexual Representative may may define as bisexual, or otherwise define as being romantically/sexually interested across the gender spectrum.
Now, that's changing the definition of the bisexual rep so that - unlike the other specific positions NUS sets aside - the holder need not identify as bisexual, and is an amendment that is entirely in response to biphobic nonsense.

Will it make a difference though?  NUS LGBT doesn't have a great track record on having bi reps who ever seem to do anything related to their remit.  The bi place seems to be treated more as a way onto the national exec and a springboard to other positions rather than a position from which to enable work, communication and change targeted at and for bi students or bis in general. There have been exceptions to that rule but in ten years of watching, they seem to happen about once in five years...

Wednesday 14 April 2010

That's not what you mean

The Lib Dem manifesto has been launched. All good lefty stuff, the only coherent programme on the table, and may they win a swathe of seats not least as the only party consistently on side with LGBT issues, etc.

The Lib Dems do have one weakness on their manifestos, and it's the B word. Now it's peculiar that the 'third option' party should have such a persistent blind spot on the 'third option' sexuality but there it is. 

The manifesto includes:
Liberal Democrats will continue to encourage more openly gay and transgender people to stand for Parliament

How many times do I have to spell this one out?  I'm not gay.  I'm no more gay than I am straight.  Saying bis are a type of gay because they're not straight is like saying Germans are a kind of Egyptian because they're not Spanish.  You can reasonably shrink gay and lesbian down to just gay; you can't do that with the B strand of LGBT.

The manifesto also says a Lib Dem government would
Require better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded.
Now, you can see how they got there.  Someone sub-editing things down sees a reference to hate crimes against disabled people, and a reference to homophobic and transphobic hate crime. "How can I put these together?" they think. "What's the -phobic word for disability? Erm. OK I'll do it the other way... homophobic hate crimes happen to homosexuals, and transphobic ones to transgender people".

Except of course they don't.  Or rather, they don't just.  The venn diagram has a big overlap between, say, being gay and being a victime of homophobic attacks.  But these things happen to bi people, to straight people, to cis people, too. 

I think it's pretty clear what they mean.  It's not quite what they said, and if they get in, or even if they don't and are advocating these things from the opposition benches, we need to make sure they get it right in the legislative print.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Just a slip o the keyboard miss, honest

Stonewall say that not including bisexuals in half their questions on LGB equality for MPs was an unintended mistake.  You know, in the best part of two decades of reading stuff from them, I've never noticed a publication where they unintendedly and mistakenly missed out the word 'gay' but remembered the 'b' word. 

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Stonewall and NUS

They haven't replied to last week's email yet, but their "questions for parliamentary candidates" page has been changed - it no longer just talks about "lesbians and gay men".

Result ~:o)

In other news, ahead of this year's Town Hall LGBT Day, I've dropped the local uni bi rep a note asking for any input from the student population. Would be good to get that alternative take on it...