Österreichisches Lesben- und Schwulenforum

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The Austrian Lesbian and Gay Forum (ALGF), in German: Österreichisches Lesben- und Schwulenforum (ÖLSF), was the driving force in Austria's LGBT movement in the 1990s[1] and has founded Austria's only Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade, called Regenbogenparade, on Vienna's Ringstrasse in 1996.

The term ALGF/ÖLSF stands for both an annual meeting of activists and an umbrella association of important LGBT organisations in Austria. In 1999, the Austrian Lesbian and Gay Forum concluded its activity.

Annual meetings[edit]

The ÖLSF conferences took place in seven of nine Austrian provinces and were organized mainly by local groups and associations. These meetings furthered the development of a proud and self-confident identy of Austria's LGBT community:

The conferences emphasizied on political and cultural discourse, but also included hedonistic workshops and events - like Tinkering dildos, Darkrooms for Lesbians, a lecture by Hermes Phettberg in a public toilet, midnight readings and dance interludes. The plenary with representatives from all over Austria always took place on the last day of the conference, it discussed in length all resolutions brought forward and voted on them. Among the most important forum papers agreed upon were the Law Resolution of 1994 and the Transgender Resolution of 1996. In 1994, the controversial proposal of a Resolution for the Abolition of Genders was not adopted.

Umbrella association[edit]

In 1994, the plenary of the forum in Vienna decided to institutionalise the forum as association recognized by the law. The founders took some risks, due to § 221 of the Austrian Penal Code.[3] Nevertheless, the foundation of the association took place in Graz, on February 4, 1995. Hedwig Pepelnik-Gründler and Christian Michelides were elected as presidents, Waltraud Riegler from HOSI Wien and Gernot Wartner from HOSI Linz as vice presidents.

During the following two years the new institution developed a multitude of activities and was constantly present in the public arena. In June 1995 the founders of the Forum organized the International Human Rights Tribunal against the Republic of Austria. The tribunal was chaired by environmental and human rights activist Freda Meissner-Blau and by Gerhard Oberschlick, editor of FORVM, and was dedicated to the persecution of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons in Austria from 1945 to 1995. The Forum was the first Austrian LGBT organisation that successfully invited Austrian politicians to appear and to speak at its public events, like the Appeal to Reason at the Palais Auersperg.[4]

In 1996 succeeded in founding Austria's first CSD parade, called Rainbow Parade, in supporting the first public blessing of a lesbian couple in an Austrian church and in staging the Dornbirn Forum - against heavy opposition of the local mayor, the catholic Vicar general and large parts of the population of Vorarlberg. Nine title pages and more than 300 letters to the editors of the local newspapers resonated the public outrage. A public reading of selected letters to the editors, held in Vienna by eight prominent personalities and organized by the ÖLSF, infuriated the local opposition even more. In late summer of 1996 the ÖLSF - due to demands from many same sex couples - installed a Blessing Hotline, that promised them to find a priest of their confession.

In late fall of 1996 two of the three discriminating paragraphs of the Austrian Penal Code were abolished,[5] and this success was widely seen as a result of the intense lobbying work of ÖLSF and its member organisations, like the Human chain for human rights around the parliament on October 10, 1995 during a critical meeting of a parliamentary committee. While hundreds of ÖLSF members demonstrated outside the parliament building, inside two representatives of the association[6] answered the questions of the MPs.

At the general assembly in January 1997 the leading team was voted off, which was seen as a coup d'état by most member associations,[7] as the individual members had the same voting powers as the associations. HOSI Wien, the most important pillar of the Forum, left the association. The assertiveness of ÖLSF expired.

Although the Forum St. Pölten again made headlines - due to the resistance of local bishop Kurt Krenn, ultra catholic publicists and the Israelite Community, the vigor of the rebels slackened. In 1999, ÖLSF was closed down.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ulrike Repnik: Die Geschichte der Lesben- und Schwulenbewegung in Österreich, (Feministische Theorie Band 48), Milena Verlag, Wien 2006, ISBN 3-85286-136-5
  2. ^ In German, the term Abart or abartig stands for abnormal, deformed, deviant or kinky. It was used heavily by Nazi oppressors against homosexuals and against any kind of sexual deviation. The english term UP-art sounds alike - with a whole different meaning.
  3. ^ At the time of the foundation of the forum, in 1995, two paragraphs of the Austrian penal code still threatened every public endeavour of the LGBT community. §220 penalized the "Advertising for same-sex fornication and the fornication with animals" with up to six months of prison, §221 penalized the "Forming of associations benefiting same-sex fornication" with also up to six months of prison. Therefore all top-level functionaries of the ÖLSF could have legally been brought to court and jailed.
  4. ^ At the Tribunal, MP Johannes Jarolim (Social Democratic Party, SPÖ) spoke as amicus curiae, MP Terezija Stoisits (The Greens) took part in the International Committee, and both MP Volker Kier (Liberal Forum) and Vienna City politician Friedrun Huemer (The Greens) acted as members of the Senate. - At the Appeal to Reason three leading ladies of Austrian politics were speaking: the Federal Minister for Women Affairs, Helga Konrad (SPÖ), the chairwoman of the Liberal Forum, Heide Schmidt, and the spokeswomen for justiciary of the Green Party, Terezija Stoisits. The debate was moderated by Ulrike Lunacek who decided to become a politician herself during that event. - Key note speakers at the Forum 1996 in Dornbirn were MP Peter Kostelka (chairman of the socialdemocrats in parliament), MP Madeleine Petrovic (chairwoman of the green parliamentary group) and MP Heide Schmidt (chairwoman of the liberal parliamentary group). - In addition there was also an exchange of opinions in Parliament between ÖLSF representatives and conservative MPs Gertrude Brinek and Franz Morak, both from the Austrian People's Party.
  5. ^ §§ 220, 221 StGB
  6. ^ Christian Michelides and Waltraud Riegler
  7. ^ Krickler, Kurt (2010). "HOSI Wien gegen kommerzielle Parade". LAMBDA-Nachrichten. Retrieved 1 November 2013.  (German)