INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA - MAY 17th
May 17th - is a symbolic date for gay men and lesbians. Once long considered an illness, homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990, by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Same-sex Couple - A Story of Love
Every year, the International Day Against Homophobia is the moment to start off an awareness campaign on sexual diversity. The current campaign's theme is Same-sex Couple - A Story of Love.
All too often, people perceive being gay or lesbian in a narrow way in which sexual orientation is reduced to its simplest form - sex.
Just as for opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples form out of emotions and romantic feelings. Sexuality is certainly a part of a couple relationship, and it is often the sexual dimension that sparked the flame. However, a lasting couple relationship cannot be based on sexuality alone.
Same-sex couples, formed by either two women or two men, go through the same good and bad times that opposite-sex couples do.
IDAHO - Campaign goals
The main goal of the annual campaigns is to combat homophobia. What's more, each year the choice of a theme aims to raise people's awareness of a particular issue. The purpose of the theme Same-sex Couple - A Story of Love is to:
- dispel the narrow perceptions of gay and lesbian relationships according to which being gay or lesbian is basically only supposed to be about having sex;
- inform people that, legally, same-sex couples are on a par with opposite-sex couples;
- show that same-sex couple relationships are a lifestyle;
- increase the standing of couple relationships among gay men and lesbians;
- demonstrate that same-sex couple relationships have always existed;
- spread the idea that societies embracing sexual diversity are societies that welcome diversity in all its forms.
A Built-in System
On a personal level, athletes and figures involved in the sports world are no more homophobic than any other people. Yet, the sports environment is weighed down by a heavy silence on anything dealing with sexual diversity.
What's surprising is how an entire sector of society seems to have escaped the progress of the last thirty years, a time when society grew sensitive to sexual diversity and sexual minority issues.
The sports world has always favoured a lifestyle and a certain way of being that focus on physical performance. Both set rules for excluding everything that does not live up to the environment's stereotypes.
Homophobia originates from a stereotypical image of what a man should be and of what a woman should be. In the sports world, masculinity and femininity can only be heterosexual.
However, boys who are gay and girls who are lesbians are also attracted to sports and wish to take part in them or make a career out of it. People entering athletic organisations know what rules to play by: being gay or lesbian needs to be tucked away into the closet and silence becomes master of the game.
The sports world needs to join in society's progress, put an end to the silence on LGBT issues, and get involved in the fight against homophobia.
Since its first edition in 2003, the International Day Against Homophobia has grown larger year by year. With this, May 17 has become the prime moment to remember that homophobia still exists and that we must combat it.
The proposed goal for the 2009 Campaign is to make the general population and, more specifically, ethno-cultural communities of all backgrounds more aware of gay and lesbian issues, and sexual diversity. Ethno-cultural communities occupy an increasingly significant place in our societies. What's more, contributions by these communities are invaluable to our country.
Not all of the world's citizens are able to enjoy the privilege of living in an egalitarian society. In several countries, rights, such as the right to love a person of the same sex and have sexual relations with that person, are limited or violated.
In other countries, sexual orientation is recognised, for the same reasons as practising a religion, as a basic freedom, and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal.
People from countries in which homosexuality is legally banned may have some of their own values challenged: what was prohibited in their country is allowed and legally protected in their host country.
Keeping in mind how homosexuality is a universal fact and that borders cannot be forced on it, the 2009 Campaign is aimed towards helping these people to become integrated within their host society and to make ethno-cultural communities aware of sexual diversity issues. In addition, LGBT people and their communities will benefit from their own community's improved openness toward their issues.
WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA?
The cause for the International Day Against Homophobia, its central topic of interest, the common theme that provides information for each of its endeavors remains a universal, multi-faceted and historical phenomenon of HOMOPHOBIA.
17th May, 2009, International Day Against Homophobia, is a special day dedicated to the social recognition of homosexual experience. A day that seeks unlimited social acceptance of homosexuality and homophobia is wiped out!
Few minority groups have been as discriminated against as the gays and lesbians. But major breakthroughs have occurred, and homosexual people are stepping out of the shadows. From the outside, it could be construed that all problems have been solved. The media are sympathetic, public personalities come out, television shows feature lesbian and gay characters in scenes of everyday life. Nevertheless, the reality is quite different. Many individuals are unable to live their sexual orientation, encounter difficulties if they do, or end up role-playing to protect themselves.
Despite these dire situations, the implementation of the International Day Against Homophobia should not rest on a "victimization" philosophy. In fact, the Day may be seen as a great opportunity to highlight positive aspects of homosexuality and celebrate the contribution of lesbians and gays to society.
2008 THEME - HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A SICKNESS!
Homosexuality is not a sickness. However, specialists haven't always thought so. For a long time, mental health professionals considered sexual activity between same-sex partners an illness.
Accustomed only to handling people with mental health issues, psychiatrists ended up believing that all gay men and lesbians were ill. They listed homosexuality among mental illnesses in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder) used by the American Psychiatric Association, an internationally recognized organisation. It wasn't until December 15, 1973, that homosexuality was removed from the Association's reference manual. This decision is reflected in the DSM-III published in 1980.
During an annual Board of Trustees meeting held on January 1975, the American Psychological Association did likewise by passing a resolution to remove homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses and emotional disorders for good. In 1996, the Canadian Psychological Association followed suit by adopting several resolutions based on the same principle.
On May 17, 1991, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. In 1992, this withdrawal was officially recorded in its international classification (ICD-10). At its 2006 National Conference, the American Psychological Association restated its position in which homosexuality was not an illness.
HOMOPHOBIA IS WRONG
Victims of Difference
The Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project (AVP) offers a range of services to individuals and to the gay and lesbian community in general. The AVP is a NSW-wide project and provides a variety of services including:
· The AVP Report-Line (9206 2116 or 1800 063 060). By encouraging victims of anti-lesbian and gay violence or abuse to make a report to the AVP Report-Line they can monitor and map hate crimes. The AVP use this information to develop safety strategies and to advocate for change to make the community safer.
· Referral and support. Victims of homophobic abuse or violence can call the AVP to get information about other services and details of where to get help.
· Information. Information and resources on safety for members of the lesbian and gay communities.
· Advocacy. The AVP works with a range of government agencies, community organisations and the wider community on strategies aimed at reducing violence. The AVP sits on a range of committees and ensures the issue of homophobic violence and abuse is raised. Some of the committees include; the NSW Attorney General's Department Community Advisory Group; City of Sydney Council's Community Safety Committee; the Same Sex Domestic Violence Working Group; the Anti-Homophobia in Schools Working Group.
IN MEMORY OF LAWRANCE KING, AGE 15 YEARS - MURDERED FOR BEING GAY