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Monthly Archives: April 2012

As i noticed on the last session in Zagreb, most of you are interested in queer theory, but you haven’t had any moments in life to really look up what the fuck is that. So, i’ll use this blog to introduce you to the magnificent world o f being queer in philosophical terms, being outside mainstream, hetero-normative way of thinking.

First thing i’ll try to give to you is how to (not) define something that is not possible to define.

Announcing newest edition of “popular books” , Serbian daily newspaper “Politika” (Politics) shortly describe us plot of novel “Kiss of spider-woman” , of Manuelo Puigi (1932-1990) , novelist from Argentina. Two interlocutors, said in article, prisoners of same cell in one prison of Buenos Aries, 26-years old political activist and 37- years old homosexual have, modestly said, interesting dialogue. Homosexual guy got assignment from government to receive as much information from activist as he can, about regime topic. Everything we know about main characters in novel is their age. We don’t know their names. Seems legit for author that only two identity reference, one about politics issue, another about sexuality is everything that reader should know and these things are much important for readers than other things like their education level, skin color, etc. Let’s assume that journalist has good intention for this, but, took one question in the motion: What will happen with such stressing of identities, this unique identity reduction, in the moment when “political activist” and “homosexual” leave the prison, when we get context? Will they, on freedom, have more freedom of this   identities which was just suitable for them behind bars? “Political prisoner” won’t be that anymore, for sure, in worse scenario he’ll become “Ex political prisoner”. But, what about “homosexual” . Can he become at least “ex” . Can this information about his sexual orientation go under shadow of other personality determinants (so identity of “homosexual” would be also kind of  provisional identity?)- Can he be Luis Molina- glass-worker, engineer, salesperson, actor? On the final, whether someones (homo)sexual practices and desires something from which all can be derived?

Article in “Politica” actually tells us that and in the same time express widespread and over one century old stereotype that sexual practices, desires, taste reveal us someones deep “truth of being” , especially when they are not exactly comparable with mainstream sexuality issue. Nothing on him or in him escapes his sexuality- remind the description of “becoming homosexuals” in 19th century by Foucault. It’s present everywhere inside him, it’s in root of his work, everything is insidious and limitless actively principle , shamelessly written on his body and face, it’s a secret that keeps revealing. Sodomite falls in sin over and over, but homosexuals became species.  Homosexual in nineteenth century became person: He has past, childhood, character, way of life, morphology, indiscreet anatomy and, maybe, mysterious physiology.

Question of (homo)sexual identity, its origins, history and construction, trans-historical and trans-cultural character, its synchronous and diachronic differences repressive but exculpatory and mobilizing potential, represents framework “anti-identity” theoretical direction, almost worldwide accepted “term” – queer theory. Its flywheel is in sociological deconstructionism and its numerous implications (insights primarily by sociologists, but also historians, philosophers) that the social world isn’t given so it could be just divulged. The social world was made or invented  by words: “Society is a human product” and beside that also in poststructuralist notions on fraud nature of  signifiers.

 

Đorđe

 

Green queer kisses!

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One More Inequality between Marriage and Registered Partnership turned down by Constitutional Court
Rechtskomitee LAMBDA calls on the government to allow reason to prevail

In a decision delivered today the Austrian Constitutional Court turned down another discrimination of registered vs married couples. Registered partners could acquire a joint surname only at registration while spouses can choose a joint family name also at any time later. Such a statutory provision discriminates against registered couples and violates equality before the law. The Constitutional Court therefore turned it down and stressed again that also same-sex couples enjoy the constitutional protection of the family. Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation, called on the federal government to allow reason to prevail and repeal all the differences between registered partners and spouses.


Last fall the Constitutional Court had already turned down the hyphen-discrimination. With its decision of 22 September 2011 the Court made clear that the joint name in registered partnerships has to be connected with a hyphen, as it is the case in marriage (B 518/11).

Jörg Eipper Kaiser, represented by RKL-president Dr. Helmut Graupner, at registgration of his partnership only was allowed a double-name without a hyphen. Later on he applied to change it into a double-name connected with a hyphen (“Eipper-Kaiser”) and carried his case, which had been supported also by the Styrian NGO Rosa Lila PantherInnen, up to the Constitutional Court. 
 

Separation on principle is inadmissible

The Constitutional Court, on 22 Septebmer 2011, decided, that also registered partners, as married partners, connect their double-names by a hyphen. Also same-sex couples, the 13 judges said, do enjoy the constitutional protection of the family (par 21). Disadvantageous treatment of registered versus married couples require particularly serious reasons (par 21f). And the Court emphasized that separation as an end in itself (on principle) is inadmissible (par. 23).

Thus registered partners had been put on the same footing as marriage, for the future. For those who, as Mr. Eipper Kaiser, already had registered their partnership, inequality remained. Spouses could acquire a double-name at any time, also after the conduction of marriage, while registered partners, by explicit statutory regulation, could do so only at registration. With its judgment delivered toady the Constitutional Court turned down also this discrimination (VfGH 03.03.2012, G 131/11), with the same reasoning as last fall.

„In the light of this again crystal clear judgment we are calling upon the federal government to finally allow reason to prevail“, says Dr. Helmut Graupner, president of Austria’s LGBT civil rights organisation Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL) and counsel of Mr. Eipper Kaiser, “If they continue prohibiting marriage, they should at least ultimately repeal the other still prevailing 59 differences between registered partnership and marriage”.

Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (RKL), founded in 1991, on a supra-partisan and denominational level is working for the implementation of human rights for homo- and bisexual men and women. In its honorary board it convenes as prominent members as former Prime Minister Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer, President of Federal Parliament Mag. Barbara Prammer, former Minister of Justice Mag. Karin Gastinger, the Honorary President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Peter Schieder, Federal Ombudsman Mag. Terezija Stoisits, Senator Marco Schreuder, former Director of Public Security Dr. Erik Buxbaum, the former President of National Judges Association Dr. Barbara Helige, the Chairwoman of the National Judges Association’s Working Party on Fundamental Rights Dr. Mia Wittmann-Tiwald, the Vice-President of the Vienna Bar-Association Dr. Elisabeth Rech, the former President of D.A.S.-legal expenses insurance company Dr. Franz Kronsteiner, the President of Weisser Ring Dr. Udo Jesionek, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Austria Mag. Heinz Patzelt, the Vice-Chairperson of the Executive Board of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hannes Tretter, and the well-known human-rights experts Dr. Lilian Hofmeister and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak, the constitutional law professors Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Brünner, Univ-Prof. Dr. Bernd-Christian Funk, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heinz Mayer and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ewald Wiederin, famous child- and adolescent psychiatrist Univ.-Prof. Dr. Max Friedrich and the Vienna Child- and Youth-Ombudspersons DSA Monika Pinterits and Dr. Anton Schmid, sexologists Univ.-Prof. Dr. Josef Christian Aigner, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rotraud Perner and Univ.-Lekt. Mag. Johannes Wahala, Life-Ball-Organisor Gery Keszler and many more. October 2nd, 2006, RKL’s 15 years anniversary has been celebrated in historic Ceremonial Act “Against Sexual Apartheid” in the lower chamber of Austrian federal parliament. This first honouring of an lgbt organisation in the plenary session hall of a national parliament worldwide took place in attendance of over 500 guests including highest representatives from the judiciary, administration and politics (http://www.RKLambda.at/festakt/index.htm). Since 2010 RKL is a member of the Fundamental Rights Platform of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (www.fra.europa.eu).

 

List of inequalities between marriage and registered partnership in Austria:

http://www.RKLambda.at/dokumente/publikationen/2011RKL_EPG_AbweichungenvomEherecht_StandDezember2011_V4.pdf

 

There is a paradox in the fact about successful promoting queer culture in nationalistic and patriarchal country as Serbia. Petrol bombs and rocks were thrown to participants of Pride Parade 2010, where almost 5000 police had to guard 1000 very brave people, and the event was totally scrapped last year. But movie about struggle to stage Pride in Belgrade has just claimed the crown for 2011 at the country’s box office, easily outpacing fellow gay icons The Smurfs in the No 2 slot, with an incredible 500,000 admissions across the Balkans so far!

Surprisingly, Parada (The Parade), written and directed by Srđan Dragojević, isn’t a solemn arthouse lecture; it’s a cheeky, crowdpleasing comedy about a former Serbian para who gets a job providing security at Pride. It begins with a glossary of the sleng – “Chetnik”, “Balija”, “Shiptar” – by which the various factions in the Yugoslavian war fondly referred to one another, before ending with the one “used by everyone”: “peder” (“faggot”). That sort of worldly cynicism is how Dragojević goads Serbian audiences into his comedy’s embrace; his lead character, Limun, has to head out on the road to corral former sparring partners from the war – a Croat, a Bosnian and Kosovan Albanian – into his Seven Samurai-style bodyguard squad.

Parada is being screened for free in Serbia schools to stimulate debate. There’s more weary humour from Dragojević when you ask him how much impact he thinks his film will have. “A friend of mine, a journalist, called me recently to thank me. His teenage son had just come back from watching Parada. ‘The film’s a piece of shit,’ the kid says. ‘Why is it shit?’, asks his father. ‘It’s shit because I do not hate fags any more.'” It would be great for connoisseurs of politically incorrect movies if Parada became an international success, but really, its importance lies in one place. For the director, there’s a single litmus test. “If Belgrade Pride 2012 happens without violence for the first time in history, I will be proud that I made something important for the society in which I live.”

His film probes as deeply into the reasons for Serbian homophobia as any film in which the protagonists drive around in a pink Mini can. “Parada could have been satisfied with the status of being an ultrasound of Serbian society and cinema,” writes Miroslav Stojanović of Nin magazine, “but instead it took a step further and became its MRI.”

Dragojević, a director with a punk-rock past and turbulent dealings with Hollywood , says he wanted the same confrontational approach towards homophobia that he took with the Yugoslavian war in his most critically acclaimed films, Pretty Village, Pretty Flame  (1996) and The Wounds (1998). He cancelled plans to shoot at the 2009 Pride because, ironically, of security concerns, but scenes shot at the besieged 2010 event  are in the film.

Parada is screening in the Panorama section of the Berlin film festival on 13 February. Details: berlinale.de

 

George

On the saturday night of the seminar (14.4.) we had a private Gender Bender party for all the participants of the seminar. Personally I was expecting quite a lot from that evening. Mostly based on the experiences I’ve had of these kind of parties + the fact that the participants should be aware of the means of “safe space”. I hoped it would be well organized by the prep-team before, or by the activity committee during the seminar. By the organization I expected somebody to have thought about not only the place where the party physically takes place but also about the assistance in make-up, dressing up etc. and before all: having time in the day agenda to discuss and accept the aims and rules for the night to make it comfortable for all. This didn’t happen in its full sense. I’m not going to angst too much about or blame any individuals in failing of doing this. All in all we had much fun in the lobby of the hostel and afterwards (as not ‘gender bendered’) in a recently opened queer bar in the centre of Zagreb.

What I find interesting, is the evaluation discussion of the party, which took place on sunday morning. Apart from the points already written here above, issues like parodizing stereotypes, provoking, learning, trying to break free of the norms, ways of acting, hiding vs. expressing yourself, contstructions, roles, feeling weird, being offended…

How to define the connection between gender expression and gender identity?
Do objects have gender?
[critic]SOCIETY CONSTRUCTS IDENTITIES BASED ON EXPRESSION. [/critic]

Leeni

hours of committee work +

announcements of announcement of announcement + pro-speechs & con-speechs + voting pro & voting con & not giving a vote + sleeping + being confused + shouting + laughing

= One piece of text, which may be read by some hundreds of people.Image

Leeni (photos & text)

Photos were taken by Razvan Sandru.

Sometimes the most interesting parts of seminars are the heated discussions that rise up, even when they move away from the topic at hand. During the first day of the seminar, there were already several discussions that leave more questions than they give answers. But the questions themselves are maybe more important than answers because they point out the issues that we tend to assume and not think about it.

 

Language. The issue of language was coming up all the time. First, as there are genderqueer people at the seminar, the issue presents itself in the ways of thinking and talking about them and to them. Every one of us has at least two languages which have different ways of relating to gender and sexuality, and it adds to the confusion.

But the most important thing is the language used in politics and activism, and in the law, as it defines people and practices which are or are not protected from discrimination, which are or are not allowed, and so on. For now, language is very much about putting people into boxes: men and women, straight and gay and bi and trans, and as more and more boxes appear, it all becomes very confusing. In the ideal world, we would not need such boxes, everybody would be just themselves, without definitions which divide people. There was a discussion of whether we need those boxes as a temporary measure to achieve equality for all, or we should stop using them right now and work on the equality for everyone regardless of what boxes they can be put into.

Even in the LGBTQI community itself there is a lot of debates about who is and isn’t included, whose rights should we fight for and in what order. Sometimes it all comes down to definitions and labels. At the same time, the political process needs labels to work with certain groups, but labels are at the same time defining the ways the process goes.

 

Understanding of sex. The question of how we define sexual activity, and what activities we define as acceptable or not acceptable, was appearing in the discussion all the time. It is actually quite an interesting topic for queer community because in the society, sex I mostly defined by heteronormative culture and procreation, so the only definite kind of sex is penetrative vaginal sex between a man and a women, and all other kinds are either ‘not quite sex’ or ‘perverted’. It is also very much steeped in the patriarchal culture and thus, has a lot of connotation of power and violence, and hierarchy. While queer people have to invent their own sexual practices and definitions, they are often linked to the heteronormative understanding of sex in some ways.

The understanding of sex comes into question in relation to many issues raised during discussions. For example, is commercial sex (as in prostitution and pornography) a right or a wrong kind of sex? Can sexual activity be sold as a service without it being degrading and without supporting the patriarchy?

There was also an interesting issue of sexual relations with minors. How do we define the age of sexual consent? How do we decide that a young person is or is not able to make decisions about their sexual choices and activities? How does it correlate with the appearance and understanding of sexual and/or romantic desires? Those questions need answers, and the whole issue is in dire need of definitions and understanding.

 

Queer and political. We started by talking about the cooperation between green and LGBTQ organizations, where there are sometimes problems with mutual support being not quite mutual, and so on. The thing is, being queer isn’t by itself a political statement (at least for the majority of queer people), it’s an identity that should be private but is made public by being opposed, limited and discriminated against. So while queer rights are a political issue, and their protection can be part or political program of any party or organization, we can’t include support of any political party or movement as part of LGBTQ political program or statement. Some of LGBTQ organizations can choose to support some of the political parties or movements, but the queer rights movement in itself can’t be supporting any political programs because it consists of people with very diverse views and political alignments. 

 

Olga

…International meetings, camps, conferences, seminars and the like. There are people all around Europe (or world). Different cultures, languages, personalities. What brings all these people together are common interests or missions. This time is about “green” and/or “queer” young people. The mission is to find out, how green queer can be and vice versa and what could come out of this mix.

Arriving in a new city, meeting those people, introducing oneself, trying to remember names. Being curious, excited, confused, unconfident, tired (of travelling). But before all: Making and having first impressions. That means observing people and being observed by the others. “What was the name of that person?” “I don’t think I like that person because X is speaking too theoretically.” “Where the hell is Azerbaijan?!?” “Everybody’s so cute!” “Is the impression I’ve got true or false?” “I’m so ashamed I can’t talk German with X even though I basically could.” “Ohh X is talking too much!” “I wonder why X came here.” “I hope to discuss more about that with X later on.” etc. Observe – analyse – reflect – question — repeat!

Moreover: Reflecting others’ views of the discussed green and queer themes: How is it like to be a bi-sexual woman in Russia? Are transpeople visible in the Balkans at all? How come those persons have never heard about vegans? Is everything in Sweden going as well as you think? What is happening in the “queer scenes” of Malta? How can we stay in a hostel where our waste is not recycled? etc.

So the point is: we have a topic, we have some frame, where we all fit in somehow but once again we are all different personalities. We may not even be “we” but after all there has already been many interesting debates, amazing parties and cute moments. Looking for more!

[Using X instead of personal pronouns is a topic that will be handled in this blog sometime soon. Don’t get confused because there’s no reason for that 😉 ]

Leeni