What is IDAHO?
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.
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:
- Students being called names and bullied by their peers in school, for behaving differently.
- Women getting raped so that they can be “corrected” and stop becoming lesbian.
- People voting to stop same-sex couples from having the right to be married.
- Police action against gay and lesbian activists.
- Being deprived of your rights because you have a different gender identity.
- People objecting to transgender women taking part in the Miss Universe pageant.
- Media depictions of gay or transgender people, which perpetuates negative stereotypes; or censorship of positive portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
- Having legislation that criminalises consensual sex between adult men.
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.
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.
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Read Ng Yi-Sheng‘s 2-part article on homophobia in Singapore, published in May 2008: