BiCon’s Decisions: 2014

BCN 127 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 127, October 2014

Minutes of the BiCon 2014 Decision Making Plenary
2 Aug 2014 – BiCon held in Leeds

1. Welcome and Introduction
The Chair – Sharon – and Chair’s Aide and Minute Taker – David – were introduced; they welcomed those attending the Decision Making Plenary (DMP). The Chair explained the function of the DMP. The Chair’s Aide sought permission to record the session in order to help with minute-taking: this was agreed.

2. Previous Minutes
Minutes from 2013 were approved with no changes. Minutes from previous BiCons can be found at bicon.org.uk, and also in Bi Community News.
Vote: Agreed: many; Against: 0

3. Save the date: EuroBiReCon – Thursday July 28, 2016 – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
EuroBiCon – Friday-Sunday July 29-31 2016
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Venue to be announced
Further details will be publicised through UK bi media and UK bi social media.
There will be no BiReCon in the UK in 2016, in order to focus on Euro BiReCon.
We expect that there will still be a UK BiCon in 2016, if organisers come forward.

4. Brief report on BiCon 2013
Sam reported on behalf of the BiCon 2013 team.  BiCon 2013, in Edinburgh, is believed to have been the largest UK BiCon to date except for the international one in 2010, and made a modest surplus. Many organisations paid for stalls, and Scottish Transgender Alliance paid to run a film night at BiCon.
The team received a lot of positive feedback, and first-timers from 2013 have returned this year.
Problems with non-BiCon people on campus have been acknowledged and followed up with the venue and the police.
“When there is nothing else to do, the only thing you can do is forgive.” (Nelson Mandela)
BiCon thanked Sam for her report.

5. Proposed future BiCons:
a) BiCon 2015: Rowan is in discussion with BiCon Continuity Ltd about a possible bid for 2015: DMP agrees that Rowan should continue with this, and if necessary pass on to another team agreed by BiCon Continuity Ltd.
Q&A:
– Venue is yet to be decided.
–  A question was taken regarding inclusion of BME people/people of colour; Rowan is actively engaged with trying to improve BiCon’s accessibility in this regard and is keen to hear additional ideas. The questioner said that they had perceived an improvement over the past few BiCons.
– Although it’s impossible not to have some session clashes that upset people, Rowan will prioritise avoiding clashes between sessions that are likely to cause conflict for people’s intersecting identities.
Rowan would like to recruit volunteers to train to do specific BiCon jobs, to increase the pool of people able to contribute to running BiCons.  Expressions of interest to [email protected]
A member of a previous BiCon team led by Rowan vouched for Rowan as a trainer of new organisers and volunteers.
Vote: In favour: all (about 50); Against: 0
b) 2016 – no team came forward, so the decision was deferred to BiCon Continuity Ltd. Expressions of interest in running BiCon 2016 should be sent to [email protected]
Q: What happens when there’s a Euro BiCon and a UK BiCon in the same year?
A: Euro BiCons have tended to be smaller and more activism-focussed than UK BiCons. Euro BiCons are not accessible to everyone to whom UK BiCons are accessible, due to financial considerations and considerations around international travel. Therefore we hope there will also be a UK BiCon in the usual manner.
c) We are not aware of any international BiCons being planned at the moment.

6. Equality fund – Cat, who administered the Equality Fund this year and last year, is willing to continue to help for one more BiCon (next year). Cat would like one or more people to join the team, so she can hand over to them the following year.  If you’re interested in helping in this way, please contact [email protected]
As an indication, over the course of the last 10 years, the BiCon survey shows that the proportion of BiCon attendees in the lowest income band has gone from 10% to 30%, which indicates the effectiveness of the equality fund.

7. Proposed BiCon Organisers’ guideline changes: (All Guideline changes must be approved by two consecutive years DMPs.)
No changes were carried over from last year; none proposed this year.
The BiCon Organisers’ guidelines are at http://www.bicon.org.uk/guidelines.html

8. BiCon Continuity update
Hessie gave an update on behalf of the directors of BiCon Continuity Ltd., which was formed in 2011 to protect BiCon’s money.  The company has become a registered charity since last BiCon, which may help with seeking external funding.
The company currently holds approximately £23k, mostly surplus from previous BiCons. That would cover deposit and upfront costs for 2-3 BiCons. The current trustees are Hessie, Karen, Natalya, Elizabeth, Ian and Ed. The company would like to thank Grant who has been a director and trustee and has now stood down.
If anyone is aware of BiCon money still in other accounts, please contact the directors.
If you would like funding for a bi-related project in the UK, please contact BiCon Continuity trustees.
The trustees would be pleased hear from bi projects needing small-scale funding, for example for costs of bi presence at Pride events.
The trustees can be contacted through the company website at http://biconcontinuity.org.uk/ or on email at [email protected]
Hessie spoke briefly about some of the skills that are required on a BiCon team: basic financial skills (spreadsheets and adding up); some IT skills; making phone calls; general administrative skills.  If you have any of these skills or others that would be useful, or are interested in learning, and would like to help, please offer them to future BiCons through the trustees at the email address above. Similarly, please let the trustees know if you know of good potential BiCon venues or work at one.
The company hasn’t made any grants or loans over the past year, except to BiCon 2014.
BiCon thanked the trustees and everyone else who works hard behind the scenes and puts structures in place.
Q: Given ethical considerations, who does BiCon Continuity bank with?
A: HSBC, because at the time of setting up the company, the directors required competence and ability to work with deaf customers.
BiCon thanked Hessie for the update.

9. Engaging with government – Lucy spoke about the work of the Government Equalities Office (n.b. she is not attending BiCon in an official capacity).
What the government does about equality issues depends upon the decisions of MPs and ministers, but the LGBT policy team endeavours to listen to communities to stay aware of what the issues are; what people want and need; what challenges they face.  One of the ways the team does this is organising roundtable meetings with activists and community groups.  There was a meeting with a number of bi activists a few months ago. These inform people who are developing policy for government about what different groups need.
Lucy would like to see more engagement between different bisexual groups, communities and individuals and government, and hopes to write a piece for Bi Community News about this and publish it online.
There are lots of ways to engage, including writing to your MP and contacting the policy team directly.
Q: Would you consider facilitating a discussion at a future bi event?
A: Possibly: would have to discuss with colleagues first.
BiCon thanked Lucy for speaking to us.

10. Any other business
a) Suggestions box to be more clearly signposted.
b) A process is being worked on for improving and updating how feedback is passed from past BiCon teams to future BiCon teams.
c) Thanks to this year’s team for answering emails promptly.
d) Natalya – conduct
Natalya thanked people for reporting low-level stuff in relation to the code of conduct, which helps to build up a bigger picture. Those responsible for monitoring conduct are interested in letting people know there’s an issue and how they can improve it, where possible, rather than anything more severe. BiCon should be an enjoyable and safe space for everybody, including people who are learning lots of new stuff, so a balance has to be found. We want to make BiCon better and safer.
e) Notice: Please fill in the BiCon survey, at BiCon or post it back when you get home. The information from the survey is useful for future organisers and potentially for seeking funding.
f) Bi Activists’ mailing list and occasional weekends. These discuss various issues around bisexuality and the bi community as well as BiCon. To join the email list, please visit https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/uk-bi-activism/info
g) Acknowledgement of people who would like to be at BiCon but can’t be here, or can’t be here yet.
h) Concerns were raised about the possible deportation of Orashia Edwards, a bisexual man living in Leeds, who is seeking asylum in the UK. Concern was also raised that bisexual asylum seekers are being encouraged to identify themselves to the authorities as lesbian or gay.

The petition to the Home Secretary about this case, and the appeal for help with legal funds, are at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/teresa-may-don-t-deport-orashia

The Bisexual Index intends to comment on this and raise awareness.

i) The chair thanked all the participants, and thanked David for being chair’s aide.  The chair’s aide thanked Sharon for chairing.