Brum Bis set a date

bifestThis autumn’s Birmingham BiFest day-long bi festival will be on Saturday 22nd November.

Put the date in your diary now and watch this space for more news nearer the time!

20 Years On, Mancs Are Still Bi

20 years to the day...

20 years to the day…

Manchester-based bi organisation BiPhoria is celebrating its 20th birthday – their first social / support evening for bisexual folk and those who think they might be bi was held on the 1st September 1994.

It’s the UK’s longest-running bisexual group: there were others before it, but those have fallen by the wayside in the intervening decades.

BiPhoria on the Manchester demo

The group is active socially, academically, educationally and politically

Group convenor Jen Yockney told BiMedia, “My first time along at the group was three months later at the December 1994 meeting. I think it was fortunate both in the enthusiasm and commitment of the volunteers who have been there over the years keeping it alive, and also in being a mixed group in a city that has a vibrant queer culture.”

Manchester’s queer culture hasn’t always helped the group: the city council is proud of its progressive record on lesbian and gay rights in the 80s but had the non-existence of bisexuality as a matter of council policy in the 90s and 00s.

At the time the group formed many bi groups were gendered – men’s or women’s bi spaces – but the early 90s was when the bi movement in the UK started to get to grips with gender diversity and building welcoming spaces regardless of gender identity.

BiPhoria has been the cornerstone to work including bi social and support spaces, political activism (lobbying local and national government as well as highlighting biphobia on the local gay scene), and research publications on bi needs and mental health. Earlier this year the group led the Manchester LGBT demo about the Sochi winter Olympics for half of the march, alternating with the Lesbian & Gay Foundation.

Tomorrow, BiPhoria will celebrate its 20th anniversary meeting. We expect there will be cake.

Happy birthday BiPhoria. Give ’em a birthday retweet on Twitter here.

 

Bi Visibility Tweet at double its target

thunder280Bi Visibility Day will be given a massive splash on Twitter this year as a “Thunderclap” tweet for the date has reached its target number of participants more than twice over.

An initiative of the september23.bi.org website, it is a co-ordinated tweet with now over 200 Twitter users joining in to all post the same message at the same time on the morning of Monday 23rd September.

Join in here.

Bisexual Asylum Seeker petition nears 2,000 names

photo: Houses of ParliamentEarlier this month the UK’s largest gathering of bisexual people, BiCon, heard the story of a bisexual man the Home Office proposes to deport back to a country where he faces isolation, persecution and violence – just for being bisexual. An online petition has been building momentum and is nearing 2,000 signatures asking the Home Secretary to grant him asylum.

The closing plenary debate session at BiCon in Leeds heard how local bisexual man Orashia Edwards faces deportation to Jamaica where he risks being murdered over his sexuality.

Home Office guidance says asylum seekers do not need to prove their sexualities, just that they face persecution. Despite this Edwards faces imminent deportation because UK judges do not believe he can be bisexual.

At the conference Gracey Morgan, who had previously been through the asylum system, explained that the caseworkers “… mean well but they say to us to claim we are [gay or] lesbian because they don’t think bisexual is understood. They say we will be better off if we don’t say ‘bisexual’, but Orashia has not done this.”

The risks he faces are real. As the petition, to the Home Secretary Theresa May, states: “His case has gained mass media attention and support in the past months and he has become well known both here in the UK and in Jamaica. This means that the danger his life is in, because of his sexuality, has increased and he was recently victim of a homophobic attack here in Leeds where he lives … All his family are settled in the UK and [in Jamaica] he would be completely isolated and in hiding.”

The deportation would separate Edwards from his baby daughter, who was born in the UK, and his mother who has also settled here. Campaign group Leeds For Change have already successfully fought to stop planes taking him out of the UK and have called on the Home Office to apply their own rules in this case.

The Home Office have said previously “We have changed our guidance to ensure that we do not remove individuals who have demonstrated a proven risk of persecution on grounds of sexual orientation”. Yet Edwards is one of the clear majority of LGB asylum seekers whose claims are still rejected by the Home Office and who face being returned to the threat of homophobic violence: a much higher return rate than other asylum seekers.

“How can the UK government claim to champion equality for LGBT people while breaking its own rules to deport bisexual asylum seekers? Why, in 2014, is bisexuality something that judges can dismiss as not really existing?” asked a spokesperson from Bisexual Index.

“We urge people of all sexualities to sign the petition calling on the Home Secretary to review this case, and to donate to Mr Edwards’ legal team.”

Even if the judge’s argument that Orashia isn’t bisexual were true, by now the profile of his asylum case would surely make Jamaica a sadly unsafe place to which to return him.

Bis at Manchester Pride: it’s not over!

Today was parade day at Manchester LGBT Pride, but the bi visibility carries on for another two days with a bi info stall in the Lifestyle Expo area of the festival.

Drop by and say hi to the folks from local group BiPhoria who are celebrating their group’s 20th anniversary in a few days.

The word on the purple street is that they are nearly out of their supply of freebie BCN magazines, but still have plenty of copies of their own excellent bi ‘coming out and staying out’ guide Getting Bi in a Gay/Straight World.

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