Saturday, May 13, 2006

May 17: International Day Against Homophobia

Hat tip to Doug Ireland for publicizing the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which is May 17. This is an incredibly exciting development to me, since I was on the board of dircectors of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for 6 years, from 1996-2002. I have always seen the fight for lgbt rights to be part of a global movement. The activity is the brainchild of a French Caribbean professor named Louis-Georges Tin, who was born in Martinique less than 32 years ago. Doug has an interview with Monsieur Tin which I encourage you to read in its entirety, but here is a highlight I found interesting:
“In 2003, after I published the “Dictionary of Homophobia” [“Dictionnaire de l’Homophobie,” Presses Universitaires de France], I began to work on the idea of an international day of struggle against homophobia,” Tin told me. “For me it was the obvious way to move from thought to action, from theory to practice. Everybody said it was a crazy dream, but I took my proposal for this project to LGBT groups all over the world, to political parties and institutions—and that’s how the first International Day Against Homophobia was observed on May 17, 2005—15 years to the day after the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.”

“This year,” Tin recounted proudly, “IDAHO will be observed in over 50 countries, from Guyana to Sri Lanka to Canada, England, the Ivory Coast, Russia, and Japan. There will be all sorts of actions—public awareness campaigns, conferences, street demonstrations, artistic expositions, film festivals, forums, meetings of associations, and so on.”

Sadly, there are no U.S.-based activities on this list so far, and neither IGLHRC nor Human Rights Watch, or Amnesty International's OutFront have endorsed IDAHO. Sadly, the two largest Americal LGBT civil rights organizations the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Right Campaign have not capitalized on the existence of this great organizing tool to denounce homophobia in the U.S. and around the world. In light of recent violent explicit incidents of homophobia in countries like Jamaica, Russia and Iraq, an increased profile for the International Day Against Homophobia is urgently needed.

Another exciting aspect of finding out about IDAHO is being introduced to Louis-Georges Tin (see picture). He has published several books and is clearly an academic star, but is also an activist. Not only is he working to elieminater homophobia worldwide, but he is also organizing the disparate Black diaspora community in France. As a fellow Caribbean-born person whose business card reads "academic / activist," MadProfessah applauds Louis-Georges and his work. Allez!

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