International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia 2012
There are many dates that stick in your mind when you look at all of the many important landmarks in our community’s fight for equality. May 17th 1990 is a special one, for it was on that day that the World Health Organisation made the decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. It is for this reason that May 17th is now used as a day to stand up and fight against homophobia and transphobia world wide.
When I think about homophobia within my own experience I feel it is something quite difficult to articulate. I have seen my own society, in Ireland, make great strides since I came out in the 90′s but we still have so far to go. Internationally we see that President Obama has endorsed marriage equality in the states but then you look further afield and you remember the world is a big place and we tend to get so involved in the so called ‘western world’ that we can forget our brothers and sisters in countries like Uganda and of course Iran, where four gay men are due to be executed for sodomy, and you just shake your head in dismay. Issues like teen suicide, marriage inequality and corrective rapes are still everyday realities that have to be dealt with head on.
Yesterday the annual review of the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, trans and intersex people in Europe was launched, you can download it here. The review states that the UK is the best place in Europe to be gay, this is as a result of anti discrimination laws and civil union rights, Germany and Spain didn’t do to badly either. Lets give a shout out to Scotland which helped the UK earn so many points with its explicit recognition of hate crimes aggravated by gender identity. Not surprisingly Russia didn’t fair to well in the survey, its new anti gay laws and the recent arrest of 17 people for “promoting homosexuality” have hit the headlines in a big way world wide.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has spoken out on the issue in support of IDAHO Day and the more people who do so in such an articulate and meaningful way the better
I asked my fellow Gaelickers to have a think about what changes they have seen in Irish society, with respect to homophobia and transphobia, and I got some insightful comments I’d like to share:
I think the thing with homophobia in Ireland today is that most people think they are not homophobic, except they often still are. Little things, like saying they’re not interested in gay issues and will vote on “more important things” than the human rights of their friends and family members, or saying “that’s gay” (and swearing it doesn’t mean anything, don’t be so sensitive, jeez), and making gay jokes that we shouldn’t be offended by because “you know I’m not like that.” They tell us we’d get a better job if we looked more “normal”. These people aren’t assholes, and they love us, but they don’t get it, and won’t put in the effort to understand. While they don’t object to our having full rights, they won’t go out of their way, either, to help us get it. It’s those little things that tell us, daily, that we are not equal yet, and the fight is ours and ours alone.
Homophobia is alive and well in Ireland. We have made huge strides in our country, but there is still an underlying sense of “difference” from larger society. And that difference equals “less”.
Having said that, I feel guilty even thinking it. Here I am complaining about my less-than-state-supported civil partnership (marriage to me and mine) and in some countries around the world I could be killed for even typing this.
There is a sense of there almost being two LGBT worlds; one is which we fight for our rights and the other where they fight for survival.
Both show the homophobia in the world and one is just a step down the road from the other.
When it comes to Ireland, I think that yes there has been some progress since decriminalisation, and plenty of positive noises made; at the same time, there is far too much foot dragging by politicians and law-makers. A Minister promises to abolish discrimination against LGBT employees in religious-controlled institutions; but the government blocks (rather than, say, amending) legislation proposed by a member of the opposition. Young people experience huge levels of bullying in schools, and yet the leadership on this issue (and it is great leadership, lauded by the United Nations) comes from an NGO, BeLonG To. All political parties finally agree that marriage equality is only right and fair, and yet they all hide behind unspecified “constitutional” reasons why we are being told, “Not yet.” And despite tireless campaigning, research and submissions, trans people in Ireland are faced with proposals for recognition which I can only describe as both half-hearted and simply insulting.
I don’t think there can be any doubt that IDAHO is needed now as much as ever, according to the website
The Day has been launched with the idea of creating a worldwide community of activists and committed people, sharing the ideal of a world without homophobia nor transphobia in which everyone can freely live their sexual orientation and the gender identity they wish to live in.
The “different is not equal” feeling is something we hear a lot and I for one feel strongly about it, we are different but most definitely equal. I look forward to a time when IDAHO day seems unnecessary and we truly are valued equally within all societies, but that day seems far off and there is much work to be done. Well done to those groups who work hard year round to try to educate and inform on the issues faced by our community on an international scale.