International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Tomorrow
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is celebrated every May 17. It is coordinated by the Paris based “IDAHO Committee” founded and presided by French academics, Louis-Georges May 17 was chosen as the day of the event because homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 17, 1990. For 2009, the IDAHO campaign was mostly focused on transphobia, i.e. violence against trans people. IDAHO then became the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. In conjunction with LGBT advocacy organizations organizations, and supported by more than 300 NGOs from 75 countries, by 3 Nobel Prize winners (Elfriede Jelinek, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Luc Montagnier), a new day for complete inclusion was born. Soulforce officially participates in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in several ways and we invite you to join us in this effort.
As the Executive Director of Soulforce, I am privileged to serve with Dr. Julie Nemecek, one of the individuals who made it possible for trans identified individuals to speak their truth in the United States.
I am also privileged to work on the United Nations Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights on a global effort to decriminalize the lives of LGBT people in all countries. Most recently, we have been focused on Uganda and pushing back passage of an anti-gay bill.
In July 2006, while serving as the Executive Director of Metropolitan Community Churches, I was privileged to attend the Outgames in Montreal where, thanks to the efforts of Fondation Emergence, the Montreal Conference on LGBT Human Rights, included in its Declaration of Montreal a strong recommendation to all Governments to recognise May 17th as the International Day Against Homophobia. It is correct to say that these two experiences changed my perspective and my life forever. As a woman and a lesbian in my mid-50’s, the truth is that my understanding of the oppression of people outside the United States was limited until I went to work at Metropolitan Community Churches and, as a result, the Outgames
We have so much work to do together to ensure that all human beings have the right to live and work without fear for their lives or safety due to their orientation or expression of sexuality or gender. I want to share some of the realities of the lives of people around the world with you today. This information is compiled from sources for which links are provided.
The latest report that the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association, ILGA, released on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia 2009, confirms that no less than 80 countries around the world still consider homosexuality illegal and in 7 of them, homosexual acts are punishable by death. In almost all countries, transphobic laws dramatically limit an individual’s freedom to act in a role not socially determined by one person’s sex at birth.
Very few countries are making a move towards full legal and social equality for people who want to live in a same-sex relationship or express their gender freedom, hiding the blatant Human Rights violation behind arguments of cultural sovereignty as the freedom to express one’s sexual or gender preferences is labeled as a foreign cultural imposition.
Reflecting State-sponsored homophobia and Transphobia, social attitudes discriminate against sexual minorities and Trans people, sometimes in the violent forms of persecutions, verbal and physical abuse, and even hate-crimes. As a result, in many of these countries where political and/or social homophobia and transphobia are extreme, emerging LGBT movements are very vulnerable and isolated.
‘Out of extensive consultation with local LGBT groups in the early 2000’s emerged the need for an initiative that would be able to:
- Break the isolation of local activists by weaving their actions into a global network that promotes a very large agenda ranging from anti-hate crime advocacy to criminalisation of homophobia.
- Challenge the paradigm of Western imposition by exposing the diversity of the sexual rights and gender freedom agenda and place it into national cultural and historical contexts.
- Reach out to constituencies that join the concern to fight hate crimes and violence, without necessarily making sexual freedom or gender variance a priority focus.
To contribute to answering these challenges, an initiative was developed in 2004 to create an International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).
The main purpose of the Day is to create an intentional moment of collective consciousness and action which local groups can use as an opportunity to take action and harness to engage into dialogue with the media, policy makers, public opinion, other civil society or religious groups, etc.
The idea behind the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is to create something that can be visible at global level without needing to conform to one or other specific type of action as the sheer diversity of social, religious, cultural and political contexts in which the rights to express gender freedom and to engage in same-sex relationships needs to be addressed makes it impossible for a global campaigning movement to take one specific form of expression or even one central policy agenda.
This is why the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is not one centralized campaign, but an opportunity for all to fight for sexual diversity and gender freedom according to the context they work in and through the activities they prefer.
The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is about unity in spirit and diversity in expressions.
The Day creates an opportunity for all to :
- Draw media attention to the issue of homophobia and transphobia
- To organize events which mobilize public opinion
- To engage in lobbying activities
- To organize joint campaigning actions
- To network with like-minded organizations
- To develop new partnerships
- To address new constituencies
Organizations in more than 70 countries in the world now invest International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia as part of their annual mobilization plan. In some of them, the Day has become the major focal point or action.
IDAHO has now been officially recognized by the EU Parliament, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, France, Luxemburg and lately Brazil. It is also recognized by numerous local authorities across the world, like the province of Quebec, the city of Buenos Aires, etc…
In several countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Australia, Croatia, etc. national civil society coalitions have called upon by their authorities to have the Day recognized.