>Today is International Day Against Homphobia

>Today is International Day Against Homophobia, a day in which gay rights activists and their allies take a stance against homophobia across the globe. Sadly, the United States as a whole has not joined the global community in commemorating IDAHO.

Doug Ireland, in his opinion piece:

Here in the US, after four decades of struggle, we no longer have to fear laws that authorize the policeman’s knock on the door or the blows of his truncheon because of how we love. Yet the American LGBT organizations that harvest our money and claim to speak for all of us can’t be bothered to take just one day of the year to organize IDAHO events and remind our fellow citizens of the world’s only superpower of our responsibility to help break the chains of fear and hate that still shackle those with same-sex hearts and who are gender rebels.  

Although it’s been five years since IDAHO was launched, with ever-broader global participation each subsequent year, neither of the two largest national gay organizations — the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — has joined in this international manifestation of solidarity against making those like us in other countries the target of abomination. Nor has the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission organized any event to participate in IDAHO.

Ireland, sadly, does have a point. HRC has a small blurb on its website about “celebrating” IDAHO. The Taskforce’s website has nothing on its homepage (as of 11:29 a.m. EST) regarding IDAHO. How is it possible that the two most powerful anti-homophobia nonprofit organizations have done so little to commemorate this historic day?

Across the globe, Ireland points out several countries that are celebrating this day:

ISRAEL — The Israel IDAHO Committee, which now has its own Hebrew-language website (havana.org.il/), has organized an impressive skein of events across the country, including a conference on “Homophobia in the Schools” to be addressed by the country’s Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, and a forum organized in conjunction with the Palestinian queer women’s group ASWAT.

UNITED KINGDOM — Among the more than 80 IDAHO events scheduled are a forum in London on “Homophobia in Africa,” a kiss-in outside Parliament in the wake of the recent elections, rallies against homophobia and transphobia in Sheffield and Coventry, an open house for LGBT people at Liverpool’s City Hall, an IDAHO conference organized by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, a concert in Surrey featuring renowned jazz singer Jo Paige, and IDAHO street stalls in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee.

BRAZIL— The Parliament of Santa Caterina recently made it the ninth Brazilian state, out of 27, to officially endorse IDAHO and recognize it as the annual Regional Day for combating homophobia. On May 17, the first National March Against Homophobia and Transphobia will converge on the country’s capital of Brasilia, specifically denouncing the growing interference of religious lobby groups in public affairs, followed by a national conference on LGBT rights with members of Parliament, representatives of government ministries, and civil society organizations.

BANGLADESH — For the third year in a row, the country’s organization for gay men, Boys of Bangladesh, will mark IDAHO with a day-long program featuring cultural performances, a poster competition, a forum, and a kiss-in.

COSTA RICA — The country’s government officially endorsed IDAHO three years ago, and this year’s events will include a press conference by the Minister of Health and the second annual Inter-University Conference on Homophobia sponsored by three state universities.

CUBA — Mariela Castro, director of the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX) and daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, for the third year in a row has taken the lead in organizing a week of IDAHO events culminating in a May 17 conference and ceremony in El Mejunje, a cultural institution located in Santa Clara, some 260 kilometers east of the island’s capital.

SRI LANKA — The national LGBT organization, Equal Ground, will launch an awareness-raising campaign on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and has asked diplomatic missions to fly the rainbow flag on that day, a request that has yielded positive responses from the embassies of several nations.

FRANCE — Over 150 IDAHO events are planned in France, including the launch of an anti-homophobia campaign of TV spots as well as another educational drive sponsored by the national high school students union, FIDL, under the patronage of popular young TV and film comic Michael Youn. The student drive will include leaflet distributions in the schools, film and discussion forums, and athletic events.

TURKEY — Fourteen cities around the country will be holding IDAHO events, culminating in a two-day conference May 15 and 16 with several members of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup and the queer feminist writer Judith Butler.

While we in American sit back and watch this day go by without much fanfare, many of our LGBT brothers and sisters still face horrid discrimination in their countries. Seventy-six countries still consider homosexuality a crime and five of those countries punish homosexuality with death, according to a report released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. In its report, the organization outlines the state of gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, trans and intersex rights in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, Latin America and the Carribean.

Even in America, while we do not face being criminally punished for our sexual orientation, our homosexual brothers and sisters face discrimination on a daily basis. Employers routinely fire employees because they are gay, landlords discriminate routinely based upon sexual orientation (which leads to homelessness, as my dear friend Laura Gentle eloquently points out) and gay teenagers often run away from home because of the abuse and intolerance they face from their families. Lesbian teenagers routinely face sexual harassment at school by their heterosexual male classmates. Transgender and transsexual women face scorn or ridicule whenever they report a sexual assault.

IDAHO defines homophobia as “the negative attitudes that can lead to rejection and to direct or indirect discrimination towards gay men, lesbians, and bisexual, transsexual or transgender people or toward anyone whose physical appearance or behaviour does not fit masculine or feminine stereotypes.” Homophobia continues to play an active role in the discrimination, exclusion and violence towards gays, lesbians, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people in our country and across the globe. 

IDAHO starts with one person, standing up against homophobia and transphobia. This campaign starts with one person who decides that homophobia and the violence and scorn that often accompanies it has no place in our society, our schools, our homes, our governments and in our minds.

When will you decide to take a stance?