special set of comments is a personal report on events taking place during the
ILGA Europe conference in
At least one comment is added every day. Please check this page regularly.
More information on the ILGA Europe conference can be found on the conference section of the ILGA Europe website.
My comments from last year, the Vienna Comments, are still available on the website.
was a strange flight with Air
The hotel is very luxurious. And when I say very, I mean very. This hotel room is almost as big as my own living room and I have now the pleasure of a real bath in stead of the ordinary shower I have at home. Any complaints? Well yes. Across the water is a discotheque that goes on until 4 in the morning. Well I'll just have to learn to live with it.
And I have left the cable that connects my camera to my computer at home. So for the moment (it is Wednesday afternoon) I can't upload any photos. I hope that someone has the same camera as me or has a computer that accepts my memory card.
leaving home, the temperature was something around 15ºC. Here it is almost 25º!
Combine that with palm trees, the sea all around you and all the international
guests and you know how this conference has started. After breakfast I attended
the first part of the Round Table for Government Focal Points. A gathering of civil servants of various government departments
from all over
Also, between greeting all those old friends, we had our first discussions on the theme for next year's conference. The ILGA-Europe board has to decide on the theme, on proposal of the local host (that's us). For one reason or another the Swedish delegation has made a proposal to the conference to set a theme. So we have to find a diplomatic way out of this.
Believe it or not, but when I write this it is only 22.30 h. and I am dead on my feet. What have you done then, I hear you ask. I really don't know, I hear myself answer. After lunch Ben asked me to take a group picture of all participants of his round table meeting. I got them all out into the blazing sun and took the picture. After that I went to the lobby where there is wireless internet. I got my e-mails and answered some of them.
I took part in a discussion on a new article on the web log of D66 Westland, our local political party. It takes too much time to describe the event that lead to this discussion, so if you can read Dutch, just follow the link.
evening we went to the house of the
After the reception we got back into the bus and after a short ride into Valetta we joined the rest of the conference participants in the Saint James Cultural Centre for the opening of the transgender photo and audio exhibition. The photos of different transgender people were very nice, but I couldn’t quite understand the audio fragments. I always have trouble understanding modern art.
Dinner was served in a wine restaurant. Since I don't drink wine (never liked the stuff) it promised to be a long evening. Fortunately I discovered some apple juice and orange juice at the back of the restaurant. The food consisted of bread and several varieties of cheese. At that time my feet were killing me, so when they announced the first bus going back to the hotel, I jumped to it (well, not literally). And here I am, sitting behind the computer, writing this comment.
Tomorrow the conference really starts. The Dutch delegations meet at 8.30 h. for breakfast to discuss the workshop programme, the conference proposals and the candidates for the board.
This morning saw the official opening of the conference. The first speech was given by the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta, followed by a member of parliament. What followed was a lengthy explanation of the election process. Maybe we should do that different next year. The whole day long I am making notes of what to do and what not to do next year. One example: make sure there are as many microphones on the table as people behind it.
After two plenary sessions and lunch (I can recommend the chicken) it was time for the first workshops. I attended the ones on ILGA's finances and proposals. These include all kinds of amendments to the constitution and standing orders. As you can imagine lengthy discussions followed.
evening we went on a harbour cruise and dinner. From the boat we had a perfect
view of the
problem with ILGA-conference is that you can't please everyone. When looking at
the programme every year there are more and less interesting workshops.
Unfortunately the two rounds of workshops and the second panel were not useful
for the work I do for a local LGBT organization. So I used the morning to
answer e-mails, talk to several people about the organization of next year's
conference and theme, and at 12.00 I went to
The bus that stops at the hotel is a circle line. This meant that the route back went through a different part of the island. I saw huge new buildings, dilapidated neighbourhoods and smashing tourist venues. And miraculously despite the traffic and some diversion, the bus again arrived exactly on time at the hotel. It's amazing.
The afternoon plenary saw the presentation of the ten candidates for the six vacant board seats. Some of them just repeated what was in their written statement, but fortunately one or two made it clear what they wanted to achieve when they became a board member.
In the evening we went to Mdina for a short
walk through this old monumental city. Then we went to the Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. This former
residence of a Maltese noble family is now used as a location for social
events, dinners and meetings. This evening again we had some finger food, but
it was more than the evening before. I left with the 23.30 bus to be back at
the hotel in time to welcome the deputy mayor of
We didn't know what to expect and suddenly we found ourselves in an enormously busy street, going uphill with endless numbers of cafes and clubs on both sides. It seemed like the whole population of Mata decided to go out on the same time. Eventually we found the Klozet and could taste the local Maltese beer. As it was almost Halloween a lot of people were dressed up. I went to bed at 3.00 h.
The night was very short. Only a few hours sleep before the alarm clock
went off. At breakfast I met with Frits again to discuss the contribution that
the city of
the plenary, after the election results were announced, Frits got onto the
stage to give a visionary and highly inspiring speech. Afterwards we
watched the two candidates for hosting the 2011 conference:
To be short,
My personal frustration came in the workshop on proposals. One proposal put forward by the Swedish members asked the conference to set the theme for the 2010 conference as 'racism'. In the guidelines we got from the ILGA-Europe board it is stated that the local host presents to the board a theme proposal based on the local situation. The board then decides. We have made such a proposal. Why the board didn't reject the proposal because it was not according to the board's own rules, is a complete guess.
Tomorrow the conference votes on it. We will see what happens.
Frits went home on the afternoon plane, we organized a special photo shoot of
the delegations of
In the afternoon I took part in a workshop on the ILGA-Europe's informal communications network. The aim was to discuss several media strategies and to try to improve the way how the news from ILGA-Europe reaches the national and local press. Very interesting and very useful.
final dinner was at the Blue Creek Restaurant in Għar
Lapsi, a town in the outskirts of Siggiewi.
Unfortunately it was dark, and now we missed the beautiful panoramic view over
he coast and islets. The food was perfect. Local Maltese dishes were served and
I tried them all (apart from the rabbit because it had garlic in it). If you
ever go to
In stead of a separate party we joined an open air Halloween party in the Stitch Club in San Ġwann. A strange place that had a stage and a disk jockey, but seemed to be constructed out of wooden screens and containers. It was a nice setting with people in Halloween costumes and the full moon as nature's special decoration. The music was however too loud for me.
were shuttle buses to take us all back to the hotel. Our Maltese colleagues
have organized this absolutely perfect. I couldn't stop thinking about the
problems we face in
Also this night was very short. Just a few hours sleep and I found
myself having breakfast on the terrace of the hotel with the water of the
Sunday morning at the conference is all about voting. There must be a reason for this. A lot of people have to go away to get planes and a lot of delegates are not quite awake, so most of the votes are not in the conference room.
Most of the proposals went down quite easily. Two were more difficult: the city for 2011 and the Swedish racism 2010 proposal. To start with the last one: there was a discussion on the proposed theme and whether the conference should interfere with the rules that a local host proposes the theme for the next conference.
Next discussion was the choice for the host city in 2011. At the request
discussion was lively and the final vote was close. With a vote of 80 against
55 it was decided that the host for 2011 would be........
this time I was quite nervous, because I had to say a few words when the
conference organization was formally transferred from
three delegates were handed the flag after the break and I spoke a few
words (not too long). Then came the many thanks
for the organizers, volunteers, board and staff and a final lunch. By 14.00 h.
the bus was ready to take us to the airport. As the flight was from
When, after a lengthy flight we arrived in
it is up to us to organize, together with the ILGA staff, the 14th conference
in October 2010 in