International Conference on Homosexuality
(a report)

Revolver, issue 17, 1995

International Conference on Homosexuality took place in Ljubljana, from August 23-27, 1995. It opened with a social evening in the club on Metelkova street. The next day, three workshops were on the program.

The first workshop was titled "Working with your government". Lisa Power explained how and why we should work with our government. The reasons include: being able to influence law changes, financing projects, aids education, etc.

Julian Hows' workshop - "How to make men who are hard to reach get the message" - followed. It is difficult to educate some men about safer sex, because they don't identify as gay, don't read gay magazines, because of generation gaps, etc. We found two ways of educating men like these, and we also had a competition in putting condoms on bananas.

Lisa Power had another workshop on Thursday, "Lesbians and gay men working together". The advantages of cooperation are obvious, and the workshop tried to reveal virtues and vices of the opposite sex and to conclude how to improve the cooperation.

On Friday we moved from Metelkova street to Grand hotel Union's Rdeci salon, where the conference was officially opened by dr. Lev Kreft, the vice-president of the parliament. In his speech he talked about wrong understanding of what democracy means - it is not just about majority dictating everyone else, but also about protecting minorities. He added that in the 80's the differences had publicly spoken up themselves and asked himself how much certain political parties really believe in tolerance and equal treatment of same-sex partnerships.

After dr. Kreft's speech there was a panel on homosexuality and politics. It was opened by Brane Mozetic, who introduced the history of gay and lesbian movement in Slovenia. The debate revealed that the cooperation between the movement and the politics isn't bad, but that it could be (much) better. Representatives of the movement complained that politicians are often deaf for our wishes, and the opposite side said that we often don't seem interested in cooperation enough.

The panel on same-sex partnerships was more a lecture than a panel, because the attendees agreed on most issues regarding partnerships. The panel was opened by Aleksander Perdih, who later answered attendees' questions. He explained that registered partnerships laws were not a good solution, because they said nothing about rights and duties of parents.

Friday's program ended with Julian Hows' workshop "Living with HIV - how I have survived" and a panel on aids and discrimination. Julian shared his experience and told us what had been happening in UK when the epidemics started and when aids was considered to be a "fag disease". It was difficult to convince the goverment that aids was not a fag disease but everybody's problem at that time, but they succeeded. The representatives of Institute of Public Health joined the debate and explained the situation in Slovenia.

Saturday's program started with Ira Kormannshaus' lecture "Getting access to local authorities: foundation process and work of the Berlin office for same-sex lifestyles". This office is a part of the Berlin city government, which also finances the office. The office has three employees, who are there to help lesbians and gays - by representing them, by running a helpline, etc.

After the lunch break we went to Bled. Besides our foreign guests, 13 "natives" joined the trip. It was fun, except for the bad weather. Some of us went to see the castle, the others swam inthe lake, and the rest visited a few coffee shops. We could also call this trip the first Slovene pride, because other people definately noticed us.

We went back to work on Sunday. Gert Hekma introduced his view on contemporary western sexual culture, which was also the title of his lecture. He said that there was nothing wrong with promiscuity and that heterosexuals should be more like gays in this way. A hot debate about monogamy, promiscuity and similar stuff followed the lecture.

The last lecture, "Queer nationalism", was held by Kevin Moss. Lesbians and gays are like a nation in a way: Russians said homosexuality was "a matter of decadent west", whereas Americans saw the danger of communism in it. Kevin drew paralleles with Jews and Gypsies. Besides that, lesbians and gays have things which unite them, we change country symbols to movement symbols, lesbians and gays from other countries don't see foreigners in us, they see "one of us",...

The plenary meeting closed the conference. The attendees concluded that the conference was successful, although we were disappointed over the fact that only few Slovene lesbians and gays attended it. We decided to make steps to improve lesbian and gay visibility and to be more politicaly active.

The next conference of this sort will be held in spring 1996, when there will be held ILGA's regional conference for Eastern and Southeastern Europe. See you then!

Send comments to:
Click here to go to SiQRD main page.