The National Union of Students (NUS), Lesbian and Gay Liberation Campaign Conference 1988

(Out-take Update Vol. 2, No, 2 (03.09.1988))

CAUCUSES

The National Union of Students (NUS), Lesbian and Gay Liberation Campaign held its conference in the QUB (the Queens’ University, Belfast) Students’ Union building this year.  That may seem an odd way of putting things, but that is what happened.  “In Belfast” is the wrong phrase.

Locals were not informed about the event until a few days prior to its happening.  Participants had to sleep, eat, and live in one of the city’s least amenable building for living, eating, and especially, sleeping.  Some escapees remarked on how peaceful and pleasant the town seemed.

The Conference itself was not especially interesting to outsiders.  Some time ago a Lesbian Caucus was set up, with guaranteed places on the Campaign Committee.  This led, in the national ballot, to an over-all lesbian majority on the Committee.  This has disconcerted some men, (though they are probably somewhat embarrassed by the feeling), for sexist reasons.  They are uncomfortable with women being in charge.

Others appeared to have very vague ideas about what a caucus was.  They perceived it as a ghetto for women.  One (rather handsome Indian-looking) man let a scabby cat out of the bag.  He said something to the effect “Why isn’t there weighted representation for, say, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party?” (!)  In other words, some of the men did not like the largely businesslike, rhetoric-free politics of the present Committee.

Locals pointed out that the Caucus was quite legitimately viewed as a power-base.  If that view was not acceptable there were a number of alternatives.  One was a return to free-for-al elections.  Another was to split the Campaign along gender lines.  A third, the preferred option, was the status quo ante.

Another somewhat controversial point was the question of the Irish language.  It was suggested that Campaign (and all NUS) documents should be translated into Gaelic.  As few people in Northern Ireland speak Gaelic on a day to day basis locals felt it would be more trouble than it was worth.

A rational solution to this problem created by good Brit intentions was to donate any monies set aside to the promotion of the Irish language directly to Gaeilscoileanna (Irish language schools).  They were legitimate and pacific enterprises.

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