Today is the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) – and this year it has religion in its sights.
“Our intention is to oppose bigotry and extremism by promoting progressive voices that oppose the use of religious arguments to perpetrate violence and hate,” says IDAHO’s founder, the French academic, Louis-George Tin.
In many countries, says the organization, initiatives are being taken within the campaign to confront religious extremism, ranging from a dialogue between gay and lesbian people and religious leaders in Uganda to a “universal prayer” against homophobia co-written by the French Council of Bishops.
In the coming days, hundreds of organizations on all continents will gear up to take action to mark this sixth International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Joel Bedos, international coordinator of the IDAHO committee, says: “It’s not just about the number of organizations that take action. The real interest of the Day lies in the diversity. This is really the added value of the Day: it’s a space that is open for everyone to use, not a one-size-fits-all campaign. The fact that so many organizations join in is a sure sign of the relevance of this initiative.”
Louis-Georges Tin adds: “There is an incredible vitality. The LGBT mobilization is truly vibrant – from the Great Global Kiss-in, to an international forum and Pride marches in Turkey; from the first ever Pride march in Slovakia to same-sex marches all across Australia, to name but a few. There would be so many great stories to tell!”
IDAHO is celebrated every May 17 around the world. The Paris-based IDAHO committee was founded and is presided over by Tin. The Day is now celebrated in more than 50 countries, and recognized officially by, among others, the European Union, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Mexico and Costa-Rica.
International classification of diseases
The idea is to coordinate events to call for respect for gay and lesbian people worldwide. It’s not like the better known Pride events, in that, while Pride expresses pride in sexuality, IDAHO aims to show up the shamefulness of homophobia.
The date of May 17 was chosen because it was on May 17 1990 that the World Health Organization struck homosexuality from the international classification of diseases.
IDAHO’s Wikipedia entry says that, in 2006, “the IDAHO Committee launched a petition ‘for a universal decriminalization of homosexuality’. Many people signed, including several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Dario Fo, José Saramago, Elfriede Jelinek, Amartya Sen), many high profile politicians (Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission), Thomas Hammarberg (High commissioner of the Council of Europe), many artists (Meryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie, etc.), many intellectuals (Judith Butler, Bernard Henri Lévy, etc.).”
IDAHO says on its website:
Across the world, in many different social and cultural contexts, homophobic and transphobic violence is being propagated by people who use religious arguments to justify their positions.
But other voices do exist everywhere also within these same religions to object to the use of religions to justify hatred and rejection and sometimes even violence, crimes and bloodshed.
The objective of this campaign is to expose and oppose the negative impact of religious fundamentalist discourses and to give visibility and promotion to voices who are working for inclusion, tolerance and peace.
The organization links to a petition calling on religions to “stop fuelling homophobia and transphobia” and instead to “act for universal human rights for all people”.