International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)

What is IDAHO?

It’s nothing to do with the cult 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho  directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix, although that film did have gay characters and themes.

It stands for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which is marked on 17 May every year, to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1990.

So what are homophobia and transphobia?

Homophobia refers to a person’s fear, hostility or disgust towards homosexuality, and a prejudiced view that lesbians and gay men are wrong, illegal, sick, immoral or sinful. Simply put, it is a discriminatory, anti-gay point of view that is usually based in ignorance and hate. Likewise, transphobia is the term used to describe similar negative attitudes toward transgender people.

Like sexism, racism and xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia have no place in our world in the 21st century.

Homophobia and transphobia can result in a person’s avoidance of being associated with lesbians, gay men and transgender people, for fear of being perceived as lesbian, gay or transgender themselves. This person could be non-gay or non-transgender.

Some everyday international examples of homophobia and transphobia include:

A recent study has shown that outwardly homophobic people could themselves be gay, and they are expressing their homophobia because they are having difficulties expressing their same-sex attraction.

Unfortunately, internalised homophobia happens when the homophobic person is themselves gay, lesbian or bisexual, and their homophobic attitudes are often a result of the homophobic messages that they have grown up with in our very heterosexist or “straight” society.

Oogachaga recently conducted a nation-wide survey on homophobia and transphobia in Singapore. Check out their newly-released survey summary here.

So why is IDAHO important?

Just like World AIDS Day on 1 December, World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, and National Coming Out Day on 11 October every year, IDAHO is about raising awareness of the various forms of discrimination and prejudice towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people worldwide, and mobilising people, regardless of sexual or gender orientation, into finding ways to eliminate it.

To commemorate IDAHO 2012, the publisher Monsoon Books and editor of I Will Survive will be giving away 30 free copies of the ebook. Contact us now with:

  • Your name & email address;
  • Your reason for wanting the book (in 30 words); and
  • Your preferred format: “mobi” for Kindle, or “epub” for other devices.

*      *      *

Read Ng Yi-Sheng‘s 2-part article on homophobia in Singapore, published in May 2008:

Homophobia Part 1: The MDA censors the family

Homophobia Part 2: Under attack from the police

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