From June 8, 2002
Holland Did It -
An Interview with Kees Waaldijk
Turin Congress Center auditorium at the opening of the June 5 political
forum: strategies for legislative change.
A stairway leading up to the second floor of the Turin provincial government
building (photo at right taken from 2nd floor balcony); location of a
press conference organized by ILGLaw and InformaGay.
Reclining nude in the grass courtyard of the Turin government building
The opulent surroundings of the historic and beautiful Turin government
building, location for the press conference on the opening day - June
Stefano Fabeni, Nicoletta, Franco Mittica (some of the great people who
hosted the conference in Italy)
A small street running of Giribaldi in the centre of Turin.
Partnerships and Parenting
in the 21st Century
June 5-8, 2002 | Turin, Italy
Lesbian and Gay Law Association and InformaGay (Italy) organized a conference
to explore legal issues related to marriage, partnerships and parenting.
We were honoured to be the keynote speakers on Friday, June 7. We hope
we provided some useful insights from our perspective along the road to
The conference includes:
- Strategies for
legislative change: A moderated discussion between politicians, activists
and trade unions representatives
from diverse jurisdictions about achieving equality through statutory
law reform Convenors: Douglas Elliott, Stefano Fabeni
- Surviving partner
rights, including housing, inheritance and pensions. Convenor: Kathleen
- Transsexual marriage.
Convenor: Cynthia Petersen
- Adoption by same-sex
partner(s). Convenor: Robert Wintemute
- The role of judges
in implementing national and international human rights.
The conference was
our first speaking engagement following the publication of our book Just
Married: Gay marriage and the expansion of human rights (June 1, 2002).
We left Toronto the
evening of June 2nd, bound for Amsterdam, where we had the pleasure of
a seven-hour stop over, before our final flight to Turin, Italy. Joanna
Radbord and her partner Michelle were on the same flight as us, but they
had the forethought to book a bus tour from the airport to the city and
back in time for our June 3 afternoon flight.
Kevin and I did not reserve a spot in time, so instead we thought we'd
sit in the airport and write our speach. I even found a place to plug
in our computer. But the comfortable chairs, some actually built to sleep
in, were just too inviting after a long, hot flight to Europe.
By the time we climbed
over the alps and taxied into Turin, we were ready to collapse! No matter
that my luggage didn't survive the various connections - I was assured
it would be forwarded to my hotel, and indeed it was later that night.
Hotel Victoria, our home for the week, was nestled among the shops
and bars off of the Via Maria Vittoria and our room was a well appointed
mini-suite, complete with a jacuzzi-built-for-two and a four poster bed.
The moorish tone of the room gave us a feeling of nestling away in an
exotic destination. In spite of airline fatigue, we both found ourselves
ready to begin exploring the city.
Our desire for an
introduction to the city was soon realized as we had just finished unpacking,
call from the lobby indicated that Douglas Elliott and his co-chair for
the conference, Stefano Fabeni were in the lobby. They soon had us wandering
the streets of Turin, Stefano pointing out many of the interesting historical
buildings and monuments that are scattered throughout the narrow streets.
Douglas also provided numerous historical insights into the events that
had shaped Turin's development and they laughed
and smiled so easily, it was very difficult to imagine them as anxious
about hosting an international conference that would begin in just over
24 hours. Over dinner they invited us to attend the next day's press conference,
a precursor to the actual symposium. Not wanting to miss Douglas' first
speech in Italian (he'd only been studying for a week), we agreed that
we would be there.
press conference the following day (June 4) was held in the historic offices
of the Province of Turin, a majestic building with soaring ceilings and
a delicate courtyard that opened into a magnificent sculpture garden.
The press conference itself was held in the "Hall of marble",
where an intricate chrysanthimum motif adorned the exquisite stained glass
windows. While the conference participants spent some minutes schmoozing
with each other, Kevin and I lost ourselves among the art and sculpture
of the building. It was like being backstage at an outstanding version
of the Antiques Roadshow.
When the press assembled,
the prepared remarks began and Kevin busied himself with capturing everything
he could on tape. Moving around the room with the practiced step of one
who has been to a number of press conferences, I amused myself watching
the local press try to work out exactly what news organization
Kevin was with. Meanwhile, the panel was delivering their opening remarks
and I tried to put my limited knowledge of Italian into practice, while
working with my background in French to follow what was being said. It
was not a success and so I turned my attention back to Kevin who was getting
more stares from the news hounds as he switched modes on his camera and
went from shooting video to digital still pictures. The scribblers now
clearly decided that he was from some overly financially endowed North
American news channel and dismissed him as "non-Euro" news trash.
Then suddenly I heard
my name. Stefano had introduced Kevin and I as the keynote speakers and
explained what had happened here in Canada. Several of the press looked
at us and revised their opinion from non Euro news trash to non Euro news
item. After that Douglas addressed the press (in what sounded very practiced
and natural Italian - the man's a marvel) and the conference ended.
During the typical
post-scrum hum, a couple of reporters made their way over to us. They
asked questions in Italian and we politely nodded and apologized for not
speaking Italian. They smiled and repeated their question louder. Fortunately,
Douglas and the charming woman who helped organize the conference, Nicoletta,
arrived on the scene and bridged the communication gap. The reporter asked
about our case, and what we did for a living, which was duly reported
coverage in La Stampa the next day.
coverage from Turin - June 8, 2002
in Italian from Franco Grillini
I will be transcribing
some of our recordings of the conference proceedings, in order to bring
you some highlights, in the near future. Stay tuned!