IDAHO–International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

IDAHO special message – May 17th around the world

From: Day Against Homophobia contact@dayagainsthomophobia.org
Sent: Tue, May 17, 2011 8:32:25 AM
Subject: IDAHO special message – May 17th around the world

IDAHO logo

An impressive global program for the 7th edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is taking place this week with hundreds of events planned in over 70 countries.

While most events take place successfully, incidents in Podgorica, Minsk or Moscow remind us that violence, discrimination and stigmatization is still the everyday reality for people because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

All over the world, thousands of activists are mobilizing for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. This year’s IDAHO will break records of mobilization and outreach, as an estimated 50 million people will be exposed to campaign messages in more than 70 countries, calling for an end to discrimination and violence against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The mobilization stretches across all regions, with nationwide events in almost all European countries but also in places as different as Kenya, Indonesia, Fiji, Cuba, Mongolia, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, China or Russia, to name but a few.

IDAHO guys kissingThe global webportal of the Day aims at giving an insight into the extent and diversity of the mobilization and brings information about regional campaigns such as the Latin American campaign “Cures that Kill” which sees organizations and institutions in 14 countries in the region unite against ‘reparative’ therapies [Other Sheep editor’s link on ‘reparative’ therapy], or online mobilization actions such as the participatory video project “As I Am”.

Visit the IDAHO site for more information on activities and campaigns and spread awareness on your sites, Facebook profiles or by any other means.

For events that are not reported on the site, please send us an email to contact@dayagainsthomophobia.org

In solidarity The IDAHO Committee


Editor: Day Against Homophobia
http://dayagainsthomophobia.org

HIV and Transgender Women

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This post is dedicated to the MTV Staying Alive Campaign.

We all know what HIV stands for so I’m not even going there…to the definitions. And we also all know that HIV leads to AIDS.

But what may not know is the high prevalence of HIV infections in transgender/transsexual women. In my work, I have been able to interact with one of the most marginalised and forgotten/unknown groups of people in Kenya. The transgender community.

Most people only know of “MSM”. MSM stands for “Men who have Sex with Men”. Sometimes its put as “MSM and Trans”, here to console the plight and noise of transgender women. But most of the times its just MSM. Now to make the argument make sense, consider this:

The MSM claim:

The MSM fighters go on by saying that “They are men…as in…they have anal sex right? So they ARE men. Right? They (some) have a penis right? So they ARE men!” ← Is this right?

The Trans claim:

What does it mean to be transgender? It means you were born/assigned the wrong gender at birth. Thus, if you identify as a man, you should be treated as one. If you identify as a woman, you should be treated as one. Calling transgender women “MSM” is a direct spat in the face. Its an insult to them. Fine, you find some people saying that ‘MSM is a behavioural term’ but really, is it? When you say its “Men….” even before you continue you’re already calling trans women what they are not; men! True or false?

The transgender community, because of the above issues, is facing a plethora of HIV issues. Recent studies suggest HIV prevalence rates of up to 42% among transgender people in India . A multi-centric study from the same year in Argentina puts the transgender prevalence rate at 35%. In essence, what is happening is that the women either don’t go to HIV matters because of stigma, or feel insulted when asked to go to MSM HIV meetings/initiatives. This is the cause of the very high rates. I feel that it is mostly stigma. Why? Because of their situation, most feel embarrassed or uneasy to go for check ups to regular hospitals where when they are asked about things like if they have infections in their vaginas they cant answer (here I am referring to pre-op transgender individuals) or when they go to clinics specifically for MSMs, they feel out of place since ‘technically’ its for men.

I have no idea what the initiatives here are for transgender women but I do know that there is a lot of work going around for MSMs. It is very unfortunate that the people driving these initiative ‘forget’ that there indeed exists a transgender community and even so female transgender sex workers who are at an even greater risk of contracting HIV. It also disturbs me to know that, with all the progress that Kenya has made in combating HIV prevalence and spread among MSMs, the transgender and intersex community still continues to be ignored. Even more mind boggling is that when they source for funds, they mention that “their MSM initiative also caters for transgender identified individuals”. Through my consultations, I have come to learn that there is more to it than meets the eye. Basically, they do not want anything to do with MSM initiative because to them, it is already an insult and thus not viewed as being helpful to them.

All in all, I sincerely hope that with time the transgender community gets what it deserves. They should rise up and claim their stake. Transgender individuals have more issues to deal with than most people think. Its not just an MSM issue.

*Over and Out*

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Why is Africa so Homophobic?

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For about a week or two I have been at loggerheads with myself about why I have not been writing and updating my blog and some of the things that came to mind was why on earth I started the blog itself in the first place when I cannot even make a coherent relevant interesting post, not even once! A while back I could write a post a day. Now I find it hard. Not that there isn’t anything to write about but just the mere fact that the time to do so is not enough and maybe even the zeal to do so. And its not like I cannot write, its not like I don’t have the ideas…you know what? You get the drift. Now back to my question.

Why is Africa and africans so homophobic? What is our problem? Is it that we do not understand what homophobia is? Is it that we do not understand what homosexuality is? Are we really that myopic or are we deliberately ignorant? What ails us? Mind you, I will not go about putting links and definitions here about what I have read, what I have seen and all the posts I have been looking at. I will just ramble on at this because It has been poking at me for a while. But then again. I believe it is important I do so where I can.

Recently, Malawi sentenced a “gay” couple to 14 years in jail. Why do I say “gay”? Because if you read carefully the correct stories and the judgement itself, you will realise that Tiwonge is indeed transgender and not gay. Thus, she identifies as a woman! Fine, the point here isn’t her trans identity, rather it is the fact that they were jailed for loving one another. If my memory serves me right, (I am being lazy) they were charged with “acts of gross indecency”. My question is, if that was indeed gross indecency, shouldnt it have been the big crowd invited to the engagement ceremony that would have gone to court and complain about being shown yuky stuff in public? If it was indeed indecent, then who are the ones who felt disgusted? How come they had so many guests? In the end, it was a sad and wrong move that the Malawian courts made and surely that sentence will haunt them for days to come. What is my view on this?

Love is an interesting thing we have. It is an emotion as well as a virtue. These people were not accorded love by anyone. I wonder how Jesus feels like at that moment. These are two people who love each other. They were jailed using an archaic law that goes against the most basic human rights principles that even the Malawian constitution claims to uphold. Therefore, if the constitution says they have been accorded rights and they have now been jailed, aren’t we treating them as less human? It is very sad.

Neighboring Uganda has been considering a piece of legislation that will ensure that I cannot write about homosexuals in Uganda and if I am found I will be jailed for 7 years. My HIV positive gay Ugandan friend cannot be seen in public with me because if for any reason I want to wipe a spec of dust from his cheek then I am jailed for life and he is executed since he is positive and gay! Talk about retroactive steps! My! When I saw the bill, I couldn’t believe my eyes! And then I watched this youtube video and it further opened my eyes. It is a dangerous piece of legislation that will end up hurting the whole of Uganda rather than the targeted group. My view?

With all honesty, how does two people enjoying each others company affect me? Lies have been spread that if we allow homosexual people in the world we will all die. Seriously? As in do you hear that statement? We will all die? Jeez! Its not even possible statistically!

Last but not least, the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya on May 17th celebrated IDAHO as I stated here. This week, I heard rumours that the Inter Religious Forum was suing the National Museums of Kenya for hosting the event in what they called “allowing the commission of acts of gross indecency in a public space”. So I beg to question. Here was a genuine celebration by two genuine and legal NGOs with guests coming from all sectors of the society; rich, gay, poor, lesbian, high society, straight, yuppies, bisexual…i mean, the guests were diverse and vast. The media was even there, the international representatives were there. I mean, can I even start thinking about the sillyness of that statement? Aren’t gays, lesbians, transgender and intersex people PEOPLE? Aren’t they taxpayers? And since when was it a crime to congregate? I am at a loss of words!

I never wanted to do a lengthy post but all these things triggered my somewhat angry mood this week and I just had to vent it all out.

Some day, we will be able to understand the human rights concept. Someday.

Somehow. But, is it this>>

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