In the wake of IDAHOBIT, thank you, but keep fighting

Rainbow Pride flag
Image: iStock

 

17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi – phobia, Intersexism and trans – phobia. (IDAHOBIT). 17 May 1990 was the day when the World Health Organisation officially declassified homosexuality as a mental qaillness.

I said about a year ago about how IDAHOBIT was a great day for the LGBTQ+ community to show appreciation for those who have stood by us, fought for the rights of LGBTQ+ people and stood by LGBTQ+ people who are in distress. This is still close to my heart. Thank you again for everyone who has been a part of making our lives a little bit easier, especially last year during the same – sex marriage postal survey debate.

But, of course , the work is not done; not here and not around the world. Currently,  seventy – four countries still outlaw homosexuality, some of where the death penalty can be carried out for same – sex relations.

 

The Australian LGBTQ+ community won a major battle last year; same – sex marriage finally came legal after 61.6% of survey participants agreed that same – sex couples should be able to marry. The Act now states that two people can marry, with no mention of sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. This is monumental.

The battle for the right to marry for LGBTQ+ people is won. Where we still need to be vigilant is the reversal of anti – discrimination laws. Last year, there was discussion about whether businesses should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples who want to marry on the grounds of faith or conviction. I have expressed numerous times how I think this is a potential slippery slope and how there is no guarantee that it’ll only be cake bakers or other wedding suppliers that will be exempt, but also teachers, other educators, counsellors, psychologists, etc like it has in parts of the US. I plead for our allies to be vigilant about that and, if it comes up, to vocally protest against it.

I still feel strongly about LGBTQ+ students being supported in schools. If not through Safe Schools, I don’t think it would hurt to have another program aimed at tackling homophobia, bi – phobia and trans – phobia etc. As I’ve said before in the context of education and AFL’s Pride Roun, I really don’t think it’s enough for students to have to assume that they are not at risk of being rejected. It needs to be made obvious. The voices in the head of someone even questioning their sexuality can make one assume the worst; that they won’t be accepted, that they deserve to be bullied, etc.

Not all advocacy is political either. Increasingly, the issue of proper LGBTQ+ visibility in the media and pop culture comes up. There are still issues with misrepresentation or invisibility, especially of bisexual people. Negative stereotypes about bisexual and pansexual people still persist and have negative consequences on their mental health.

While things are improving for asexual people,including visbility, things can still improve. For starters, it would be great if people would get to know what asexuality is. Allow people to define their own sexuality and/ or relationships, without resorting to comments that it’s a phase, etc, (often it’s not).

 

The West have made great strides in LGBTQ+ rights. I am really hopeful, although cautious, about the future. The world as a whole has a long, long way to go. Hopefully IDAHOBIT in the future can bribg positive change where it’s needed.

Have you, your school or workplace done anything for IDAHOBIT? Also, what do you think can improve for LGBTQ+ people?

 

Advertisements

Councils commemorating IDAHOBIT: is that such a bad thing?

IMG_0540
Image: iStock

 

 

This week, Geelong City Council raised the rainbow flag on City Hall as a part of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Good idea? I didn’t actually know this until a few hours ago, but May 17 marks the day when the World Health Organisation officially declassified homosexuality as a mental illness back in 1990. Sine then, transgenderism is slowly being destigmatised and is no longer officially being classed as a mental illness. With that, the western world has continued to make advances into ensuring the full participation and well – being of LGBTQ+ people in society. Of course, this hasn’t been smooth sailing, with continued discrimination and all out culture wars which still affect LGBTQ+ people in the West today.

Back to the Geelong City Council, like I said, I think almost any move to show acceptance and advocacy for LGBTQ+ is a good thing. However, if you watched a discussion on shows like Sky News’ ‘Paul Murray Live’ this week, you would sense a bit of ‘here we go again’. Panellist like ‘Herald Sun’s’ Rita Panahi attacked Labor again for voting down the proposed plebiscite earlier this year.

The thing is, do gestures like the ones that the Geelong City Council made win hearts? To be honest, I think the answer is no. Pushing ad nauseum, while attacking opponents of things like same – sex marriage, or even the signalling of IDAHOBIT by raising the rainbow flag on a government building isn’t winning anyone over.

So, what can we do?

First thing that comes to mind is… talk. Talk about same – sex marriage, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc. We need to work together to work it out so LGBTQ+ are included and accepted without others feeling unfairly targeted and silenced.

On a similar point, let LGBTQ+ talk. This is what has frustrated me over the so – called debate on same – sex marriage. On one hand, you have groups like Socialist Alliance running amok making LGBTQ+ look bad, then on the other end, you have conservatives (almost always straight), telling LGBTQ+ to suck it  up and how we should have just had the plebiscite.

There are LGBTQ+ Australians who don’t want same – sex marriage to be legalised, and yet there are those who do and take the debate hard and did have aerious concerns. I think I’ve said before that mental health was a topic that was unfortunately not talked about in the lead up to the vote on the plebiscite until it was too late and the bill was blocked in the Senate. This isn’t about treating LGBTQ+ people as ‘special snowflakes’ or ‘precious petals’, but acknowledging that, because of their circumstances, past trauma or toxic beliefs about gender identity or sexuality, that such people may have needed support in the lead up to the plebiscite.

 

I do any council or other institution who work to make LGBTQ+ people feel secure and included in their area. i do think LGBTQ+ need to be heard. Whether putting a rainbow flag on a government building, even for a week is a way to do it is I think questionable. Let’s hope it doesn’t have the exact opposite effect.