IDAHO Day

Idaho LogoToday is IDAHO Day. For the uninitiated, this stands for International Day Against Homophobia (not to be confused with a holiday in the 43rd State of the Union). On this day in 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. No longer were gay people officially categorised as sick and mentally disordered. IDAHO Day was conceived by the French academic and human rights activist, Louis-Georges Tin, with the aim to raise awareness about the plight of sexual minorities across the globe who live in daily fear of casual discrimination, systematic violence and state-sponsored murder. Some of us are fortunate to live in societies where attitudes have changed radically and where we are protected by a comprehensive body of law. Most are not so fortunate. This does not mean that mindless, sometimes violent, homophobia is no longer with us. Far from it. We must always be on our guard against the knee-jerkers and pond life who mean to do us harm. And we still have a long way to go to effectively eradicate transphobia. But, spare a thought for the brave souls in other lands whose very existence is a crime, where silence and denial are the only instruments of survival. Earlier this week, I had the honour to interview Eric Gitari, a human rights lawyer and activist in Kenya, on Future Radio’s Pride Live Show. Eric is helping to co-ordinate IDAHO Day in his own country and campaigns to abolish the draconian laws inherited from the British Raj. Believe me, his work is no walk in the park but Eric refuses to be silent. Today, ordinary people in many corners of the world will mark IDAHO Day publicly. However, some will do so in private and who can blame them? To be lynched from an olive tree or burned to death by a tyre necklace is nobody’s idea of a gay old time.

PS: The Kenyan Police banned the IDAHO march in Nairobi minutes before it was due to set off. No surprises then. 

15 thoughts on “IDAHO Day

  1. May tolerance grow throughout the world surely there is no more room here on this earth for anymore senseless violence against anyone. Unfortunately the African states have a seemingly long way to go until acceptance of homosexuality happens. They will be a great continent one day and soon I hope and believe, as there is nowhere so bountiful and beautiful.

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  2. Hi Jack: Thank you for your powerful message. As you know, here in Jamaica we are struggling with deep-rooted and often violent homophobia. I have shared your post with my colleagues at J-FLAG. In a couple of hours we will recognize IDAHO with a discussion on homelessness and forced migration among our LGBT community, which is a disgrace and a tragedy. We realize that things are pretty desperate in Africa (although not in all African countries) – so, so sad about Kenya, which boasts that it is a democracy, as we do. Forgive me, but I thought that democracy was also about recognizing/respecting the human rights of ALL citizens. Ah well.

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  3. I had never heard of IDAHO Day unitl your post – don’t know whether my not being gay excuses this ignorance – but I cannot believe this only happened in 1990! I was clearly a very unaware 21 year old..

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  4. Reblogged this on perking the Pansies and commented:

    To mark today’s IDAHOT Day, I’m reblogging a post I wrote back in 2014 about IDAHO Day (the T got added a year later to acknowledge the challenges faced by the transgender community). I think the post still stacks up.

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  5. And we all keep pushing forwards – even in a world where it often seems we’re going backwards. Actually amazed it took until 1990 for the WHO to decide there was no disease involved. Never heard of IDAHO day but sounds good to me.
    Julia

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