Tuesday, 17 May 2011

It's IDAHO day

Before you all ask what I'm doing in the 43rd State of the Union, it stand for International Day Against Homophobia and transphobia. Sorry for all my Trans friends that they are not included in the acronym but we love you anyway and want to end Transphobia just as much.

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert has sponsored a new early day motion in the House of Commons which reads:

"That this House welcomes the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May 2011; supports those local authorities, police, health authorities and voluntary organisations who will mark this day with events, campaigns and statements of support; further supports the raising of the rainbow flag to reaffirm that homophobia and transphobia are unacceptable wherever they occur, whether in the UK or around the world; and calls on the Government to bring full equality to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the UK and to actively encourage equality for LGBT people around the world."

LGBT people and their friends will be wearing purple today (I'm not sure where I'm going to find anything purple to wear*) to raise awareness that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people around the world still face discrimination and prejudice. Whether that is in school, the workplace, home or street it is time that such actions end.

Since adding this picture to my Facebook profile I lost 3 friends
The fact is that here in Northern Ireland there is a lot of misunderstanding, there is also a lot of righteous condemnation from the churches, which a large number (certainly a larger) proportion of the LGBT community still wants to feel part of. One example that recently made a partial rescinding of previous comments is North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr. He now says he is more mature about his anti-gay views. When he told House magazine:

"You have to be mature about these things. I can strongly disagree with those viewpoints, but the point is how you disagree."

It certainly is a step in the right direction  from 2007 when he said he was  "repulsed" by homosexuality and that it "harm[s] society". These are some of the prejudices that Idaho Day is trying to educate away.

The problem of course is not just isolated to Northern Ireland or parts of America it is still going on everywhere. There are still homophobic or transphobic attacks in London. Too many children are still being bullied in school because of their actual or perceived sexuality; some of them can't think of any other way to handle it that to take their own life. As I wrote last autumn I almost became one of those statistics. Can any of those who know me imagine what that one person being missing for the last 25 years would have left missing?

I'll be heading up to Belfast tomorrow to see how I can help the Rainbow Project on Idaho day. There are various things you can do to mark Idaho day. The simplest for any of you who were recently involved in the Yes! campign is reach for that purple, t-shirt, tie, skirt or whatever one more time and put it on.

* Before anyone points out the obvious I know it has been largely the only colour I have worn for the last 6 months for work.

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