This year’s Eurocon is taking place in Kiev this weekend. I didn’t make it, the whole thing got to be far too difficult and expensive. But a lot of people I know are there, and there appears to have been something of a revolution. For as long as I can remember, the European Science Fiction Society has been run by the same small group of people. Now we have a new committee. They are as follows:
- Chair: Carolina Gomez-Lagerlöf (Sweden)
- Vice-chair: Saija Kyllönen (Finland)
- Secretary: Gareth Kavanagh (Ireland)
- Treasurer: Vanja Kranjcevic (Croatia)
- Awards administrator: Bridget Wilkinson (UK)
That’s a much more diverse group than before, and one I expect to be a lot more open and proactive. Carolina should be known to most Worldcon and Eastercon regulars, and she chaired a very successful Eurocon in Stockholm a few years ago which revitalized Swedish fandom.
The other piece of news I have is that the 2015 Eurocon will be in St. Petersburg over the weekend April 23-25. (2014 is in Dublin the weekend after the London Worldcon).
Given the reaction I got when I reported that the Russians were bidding, I’m expecting people to start demanding that we boycott the convention because of Russia’s attitudes towards QUILTBAG folk. Before you say anything, I want you to take a look at this website.
OK, I know most of you won’t have clicked through. That’s the English-language version of the website for Coming Out, the St. Petersburg LGBT organization. They do exist. They haven’t been banned. Earlier this month they celebrated the city’s first ever Week of Transgender Visibility. Their report on the event says:
On March 31 – the International Day of Transgender Visibility – a mass rally was planned to draw attention of the public and law enforcement authorities to the problem of discrimination against transgender and transsexual people and other gender minorities. 9 administrative districts of St. Petersburg refused Coming Out permission to carry out the rally. One of the refusals referred to the “propaganda” law, despite the Russian Supreme Court’s decision of October 2012, which stated that rallies in support of LGBT rights are not to be considered propaganda.
This is the first case of the “propaganda” law being used against transgender people.”Coming Out” intends to challenge the administration’s ban in the city and national courts and, if necessary, the European Court of Human Rights.
I note that St. Petersburg has 18 administrative districts, so a full half of them gave permission for the rally, and they have the support of the Russian Supreme Court. I don’t know the details of this “propaganda” law, but it sounds very much like the UK’s notorious Section 28. I can just imagine what British fans would have said if there had been calls to boycott the 1995 Wordcon because of that. Obviously it is tough for QUILTBAG people in Russia right now, but that means people like the folks who run Coming Out need our support and encouragement.
And, you know, that could be quite a year for the Baltic. Eurocon in St. Petersburg followed by Worldcon in Helsinki.