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Posters and CERN’s poster policy
In a recent issue of the CERN Bulletin, the Director General wrote an article titled Our Humanity at CERN. The article describes the current situation of our posters being systematically targetted, removed, and deface. Here is our reply:
Dear Prof. Heuer,
We read with great interest your statement in the most recent CERN Bulletin regarding posters at CERN. We were very pleased that you have strongly and publicly condemned the pattern of harassment against the LGBTQ community at CERN. It is important that people are aware that such behavior will not be tolerated and that CERN will take action against perpetrators, as indeed has already been the case. We are pleased that you have made a strong statement in the bulletin.
However, we must express our concern regarding the proposed poster policy outlined lower in your announcement. If implemented poorly, it could have severe negative impacts on LGBT CERN. We are certain that this is not your intent, so we hope that you will consider our concerns as you move toward codifying this policy.
Our goal is to maintain the visibility of our group and reach out to LGBTQ people at CERN. Many of our members first find out about LGBT CERN from posters. If posters are only visible in a few locations, we will lose members and eventually the group will cease to exist. We have been striving for several years now to give much needed visibility and support to the LGBTQ community at CERN and cannot accept any policy that would force us to become invisible again.
We are concerned that the proposal to ban posters outside of the authorized locations is too drastic. We want to preserve the visibility of our group and not constantly have our posters vandalized; it was never our desire to force the removal of posters of other organizations from the walls of CERN. The secure display cases should be an addition to the current poster environment, not a replacement for it. This is what we proposed to the Ombudsperson and the Diversity Office earlier this year. We would point out that if the proposed policy had been in effect several years ago, the LGBT CERN Informal Network could never have been formed because our posters would have been against the rules.
LGBT CERN is deeply concerned about insufficient allocation of space if authorized cases become the only venue for posters at CERN. We currently have a few dozen posters spread around the very large area of the Meyrin site. If there were only a handful of authorized display cases around CERN or if the cases were so full of posters that our organization is only able to have posters in a few locations, the visibility of our group would suffer. It would therefore be vitally important that the authorized display cases be visible and sufficiently large in number so that we could maintain visibility. That would be the only way our group could survive if posters were restricted to authorized cases.
Our group therefore recommends a more measured approach: secure display cases, the continued ability to post in other areas, and a commitment from CERN to address problems (like vandalism of LGBT CERN posters) when they arise. We are aware that there are concerns that some poster campaigns are excessive, such as our campaign for International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia or the Staff Association’s recent poster campaign. In such cases we think it is better to address the issue by communicating with the organizations in question, rather than issuing a blanket policy against all posters. Our IDAHOTB campaign would not have been necessary if CERN had been prepared to work with us to mark the day, as we suggested to the Diversity office.
We would also draw your attention to the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/REC(2015)5, regarding “Combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity”. The document can be found here: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/lgbt/Documents/RecCM2010_5_EN.asp . Item II.9 states that “Member states should take appropriate measures to ensure, in accordance with Article 11 of the Convention, that the right to freedom of association can be effectively enjoyed without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; in particular, discriminatory administrative procedures, including excessive formalities for the registration and practical functioning of associations, should be prevented and removed; measures should also be taken to prevent the abuse of legal and administrative provisions, such as those related to restrictions based on public health, public morality and public order.”
We have expressed our thoughts regarding a poster policy to the Diversity office during our recent meetings with them, but we are not sure that our concerns were relayed to you before you issued your statement. We hope that your statement in the Bulletin can be the beginning of a dialog and not the end of the discussion. Again, we very much appreciate your statement condemning the vandalism of our posters. We are, however, concerned that the proposed poster policy may wind up doing great harm to our group, rather than helping.
Our executive committee would be very interested to meet with your or one of your representatives to discuss our concerns further. We were preparing a letter to James Gillies outlining these concerns when your announcement was made public. As you write the policy, we ask that you consult with the groups that will be affected (and not just us) and take their concerns into account.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.