International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia sees people worldwide make a concerted effort to expose and break-down homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in all its different forms.
Across the globe today LGBT people remain one of the most discriminated, hated and disadvantaged people within greater society.
They are excluded from the rights garnered on almost every other citizen, they are abused not only by minor far-right groups but by their own governments, and many are even killed by their own families.
That is why IDAHO is so important, too often the plight of LGBT people across the globe is ignored by governments from the West as well as the East and when they are taken into account it is to score political points against regimes which the West perceives to be a threat.
Today is a day where these issues can be pointed out by people from Europe, the Americas, Oceania, Asia and even Africa, a day when the only political agenda is, or at least should be, the destruction of homophobic beliefs, societal foundations and the liberation of people who simply different.
Homophobia is thriving in many parts of the world today.
Homosexuality is punishable by death in nine countries and territories from Mauritania in Western Africa to Afghanistan in Central Asia. Other countries have fines, corporal punishment, life imprisonment or even hard labour imposed on those ‘convicted’ of homosexual acts.
Almost all of the countries where homosexuality is still illegal are in Africa and Asia but there are major exceptions, homophobia still flourishes in many parts of society outside those countries.
Even within the European Union, widely considered the most pro-LGBT region in the world, some countries, while not criminalising homosexual acts, maintain a high level of homophobic values.
A 2008 study in Poland revealed that 69% believed they should not have the right to be openly gay while 37% believe that homosexuality should be re-criminalised.
Poland has no laws protecting its gay population against discrimination other than in employment. This type of homophobia while positively subtle when compared to Iran executing gay people is still a major social problem, not only for LGBT people, but for society as a whole.
Regardless of what many on the right of the political spectrum or the more extreme elements within organised religion say, LGBT rights are human rights.
We are humans that just happen to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex or gender, and/or people who do not fit into a very rigid social understanding of gender.
There is nothing we can do about it, it is not a choice, and there is significant evidence that proves that suppressing homosexual, bisexual or transgender feelings is damaging to the individual, both psychologically and emotionally.
This also frequently boils over into physical harm to themselves or to those around them.
The oppression of LGBT people is an innately destructive thing. To actively exclude a section of the population which by some estimates makes up nearly 10% of the population produces a two tier society, which leads to a catalogue of social problems.
It is the duty of all people within a society, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, queer or straight to challenge homophobia in all its forms.
The fights for LGBT rights are frequently fights for the very life of LGBT individuals and there is no excuse for anyone in society to oppose them, or ignore the homophobic views of others.
Last May, 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio was attacked in the Chile’s capital, Santiago, by neo-Nazis. His leg was broken and he was left brain-dead due to the severity of his head injuries, his attackers had also carved swastikas on his chest.
He died in hospital three weeks later.
The case prompted the Chilean government to pass a hate crime bill in the wake of a public outcry. The bill had been in the process of being discussed in congress for seven years before Daniel was killed due to religious opposition leaving LGBT people open to extremely violent attacks that could not be classed as hate crimes.
While the passing of this law should be praised it should not take a brutal killing of a young gay or bisexual man, or woman, or a transgender person to force the government of a nation to protect its citizens.
Too often homophobia is dressed up in a religious fig leaf in an attempt to legitimise these barbaric and archaic views. It is an insult to the religion and an insult to society as a whole.
This month saw a 13-year-old girl in South Africa, the continent’s most pro-LGBT country, become the latest victim of ‘corrective rape’ in the country. She was attacked in one of the country’s three capitals, Pretoria and was said to be open about being a lesbian.
Corrective rape is a phenomenon which targets lesbians in order to ‘cure’ them through forcing them to have sex with men and is becoming increasingly common throughout Africa.
In February of last year, six transgender women were murdered on the streets of Honduras in Central America within the space of 60 days. Some were set on fire, others were shot.
Human Rights Watch claimed that the government was failing to properly investigate the killings. This is just one example of how transgendered individuals are treated in many countries across the globe, including many which have relatively good gay rights.
The level of violence committed against LGBT individuals on a daily bases across the globe is arguably the worst of any group in the world, and it is by no means confined to countries with generally poor human rights, every country in the world has frequent attacks on its LGBT community.
Just days ago the UK was named 'the best place in Europe to be gay' by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Europe, despite the on-going fight for gay marriage, equal blood donation laws, and fairer immigration laws for LGBT peoples seeking asylum in this country.
But even in this country, where legally we are all but equal – with the obvious exceptions – LGBT people are not safe.
In October of last year, Stuart Walker was found dead near an industrial estate in Cumnock, Scotland; he had been beaten, tied to a lamppost and burned. If that wasn’t bad enough many anti-gay Twitter users almost immediately began to mock his death with many stating that he got what he deserved, on top of this false accusations of child abuse were levelled at him
In December 2010 62-year-old Ian Baynham was killed by Ruby Thomas and Joel Alexander.
They verbally abused him, knocked him to the ground before kicking him and stamping on his chest, they were later found guilty of manslaughter and affray after claiming it was self-defence. Thomas received a seven year sentence while Alexander received six years.
While these are both extreme cases, the fact they happened here, proves that the gay rights movement is not just a legal one, it is a social one, reliant on individuals across the social spectrum changing their views.
We cannot say we are not a homophobic society while cases like this happen, and are followed by individuals either congratulating the perpetrators or deeming it a lesser offence because of who the victim was.
IDAHO is, sadly, still very much needed, not only in ‘homophobic’ nations but in Europe, the USA and Australia.