May 17th is IDAHO

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The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is celebrated every May 17 around the world.

It is coordinated by the Paris based “IDAHO Committee” founded and presided by French academics, Louis-Georges Tin. It is celebrated in more than 50 countries in the world, and recognised officially by the European Union, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Mexico, Costa-Rica, etc.

The international day against homophobia aims to coordinate international events to call respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. Unlike theLGBT Pride Day, which is meant to emphasise proudness of one’s sexuality and refusal to be ashamed of it, IDAHO is held to highlight:

“… that in reality it is homophobia that is shameful and must be deconstructed in its social logic and fought against openly.”

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.[3]

(Source: Wikipedia)

Today marks an important day in the calendars of the LGBTI community and other supportive mainstream human rights organisations and movements. It is a day, as stated in the above text, set aside for all LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersex) persons to stand in solidarity against homophobia and transphobia.

Here in Kenya, the day is being commemorated by KHRC (Kenya Human Rights Commission), the one led by L.Muthoni Wanyeki and GALCK (Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya). I think there is something about it on their websites. This year, Kenya is paying particular focus on Transgender and Transphobia. There is also a newspaper Feature by The Standard on today’s paper. Sadly, thanks to useless website they have, I can’t find a link.

Kenyans know little about this day and its events and more-so the reason why it is commemorated. I do not intend to make a lengthy post about it but I would like to highlight a few things to note.

First, we remember the debacle that happened in Mtwapa in the recent past. That was outright homophobia in action. But first, lets see these two words in definition (Wikipedia).

Homophobia: Homophobia is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality and people identified or perceived as being homosexual. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such asdiscrimination and violence on the basis of a non-heterosexual orientation. In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott Kingstated that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

Transphobia: Transphobia (or less commonly, transprejudice and trans-misogyny, the latter referring to transphobia directed toward transwomen) refers to discrimination against transsexualism and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia – terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the target of the negative attitude. Many transpeople also experience homophobia from people who incorrectly associate their gender identity with homosexuality. Attacking someone on the basis of a perception of their gender identity rather the perception of their sexual orientation is known as “trans-bashing,” as opposed to “gay bashing.”

What happened in Mtwapa was indeed homophobia, based on religious fundamentalism and extremism. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a right to religion but the most basic right of all is the one found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I mentioned it here. It is clear that none should infringe on these basic rights, which include freedom of conscience and right to privacy. These are but some of the rights that sexual minorities (the general term used to describe minority groups marginalized on a sexual basis, including sex workers) are not accorded to and further more are infringed upon by society.

It is my wish that, as this day is marked and passes, that we as Kenyans and more so as human beings, can reach into our human core and say NO TO HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA. This cause is important and it is imperative that we all understand why every human being should be free from such acts of human rights violations.

And with that, I rest my case. I have been lax on writing about human rights and my activism but I hope I shed more light on this aspect of our lives as time goes by.

Thank you for reading and for supporting. I am very happy to interact with such wonderful persons such as YOU GUYS!!!

XOXO!

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