Wednesday, October 16, 2013

International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia 2014: Freedom of Expression ......................

I received this release via email today and it struck me how ironic that next year's theme for IDAHO is Freedom of Expression but yet only in this year observance on May 17th our leading advocates JFLAG decided not include our homeless gay and bisexual youths so their voices could carry on such an important day, experts decided to speak supposedly on their behalf, have a read of the release firstly from IDAHO's website and also see the following: 

More MSM Homelessness Issues while agencies shift responsibilities

And MSM continue to be ready material for data collection ..... what about the interventions for the recurring issues


IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – May 17
After months of outreach and consultation with LGBTI rights activists and allies around the world, as to what to focus on for the 10th Anniversary edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, 2014, we found that the most popular campaign call, in diverse country-settings, was Freedom of Expression.

Activists in countries including Turkey, Russia and Armenia highlighted a need to challenge anti-’propaganda’, ‘obscenity’ and ‘public morality’ laws which, in practice, are being used to close down spaces for public assembly, shut down LGBTI community websites, justify police actions targeting vulnerable communities, and to silence journalists and human rights defenders who speak out in favour of LGBTI rights.

In countries including Brazil and the United States, activists highlighted the use of right-wing religious arguments to curb diversity eduction and anti-bullying campaigns in schools, with the excuse of prohibiting the ‘promotion of homosexuality‘, providing ‘age-appropriate’ material, or ‘respecting the curriculum‘.

In countries such as Uganda and Kenya, LGBTI activists have highlighted the use of arguments that ‘homosexuality is not in our culture‘ to repress public expressions of LGBTI rights, in already very hostile contexts. Meanwhile, in the Philippines and Thailand, LGBTI rights advocates pointed to the absence of specific legal provisions targeting hate crimes and hate speech which, they argued, reflects the power of opponents of LGBTI rights to set the terms of debate.

Various activists, from all over the world, also highlighted freedom of expression as an effective way to promote trans* and gender non-conforming people’s rights to self-determine their gender identities and expressions, push for more accurate and positive representations of trans* people in the media, and to appeal for much-needed improvements in the scope, quality and human rights credentials of gender-identity recognition laws worldwide.

We have also received positive feedback from artists, performers, writers and educators who have highlighted the use of these laws not just to restrict LGBTI community voices, but to limit freedom of expression for all.

Activists in a number of countries also pointed out that, although these laws might be targeted at LGBTI communities on paper, in practice, they also interlock with the policing, and stigmatisation, of all different kinds of communities including sex workers, migrants, ethnic minorities, the socio-economically at risk, and women.

And even in countries where freedom of expression is legally guaranteed, and politically defended, LGBTI people encounter everyday limits on what they can, or feel able to express about who they really are, or to articulate their visions for social change.

In short, whilst freedom of expression might be articulated in different ways in different cultures, it is also – in part – a universal issue which sits in dialogue with many questions, across countless cultural and community contexts.

Issues such as LGBTI Aslyum and Migration, LGBTI-related Stigma in the Fight against HIV/AIDS, Biphobia and Mobilising City Spaces were also popular this year. The IDAHO Committee team will be producing campaign packs and other material on each of these themes, and emphasising them in our communications in the lead-up to, and on, May 17. We will also be maintaining some focus – as in previous years – on fighting LGBTI discrimination in and through education, and creating alliances with progressive faith voices.

This year is also going to be particularly special, because it’s the 10th Anniversary edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia !

Get involved !

We now have to think about how to structure the campaign, what protest tactics we could use, and what specific policy goals we should aim for. Everything is still very open, so now is a great time to get involved, and to help shape the campaign !
Should we launch global petition or statement and, if so, with what specific goal?
What sort of protest tactics should we call for and provide toolkits on?
Would you like to see new research appear for May 17, for example, a World Index on LGBTI Freedom of Expression?
What could be some great ways to involve artists, writers and musicians?
Could we organise a video campaign, competition or online film festival for May 17?

If you have any suggestions for what we could do on the day, no matter how unusual, wacky, adventurous or obscene (!), please send us them at our usual email address (, where someone from the team will respond asap. Don’t censor yourself !

If you would like to be involved – as a partner organisation, as a group taking action, or as a volunteer – please also just drop us a line. We would love to hear from you !

You could also…

Tell us about freedom of expression where you are !

We are currently reaching out to activists, researchers etc. in various different countries to try and understand more about how freedom of expression restrictions, related to sexual orientation and gender identity, play out in different national, cultural and political contexts. If you have information or analysis which you would like to share with us please also feel free to drop us a line at the address at :
Recommended reading :
European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights: “Anti-propaganda laws”, the new criminalisation of homosexuality
Article 19: Traditional values? Attempts to censor sexuality: Homosexual propaganda bans, freedom of expression and equality.
Human Rights Watch: The Trouble With Tradition
PEN International: Resolution – The Russian Federation (79th World Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sept 9-12, 2013)
Index on Censorship/Mathew Brown: Shut the Duck Up
American Civil Liberties Union: Banned Books Week 2013 – Books about LGBT Families Remain Targets of Censorship 


Yvonne McCallah Sobers of Families Against State Terrorism makes a point during the symposium, apparently she was the one who asked the all important question as to the absence of the homeless men and Larry Chang whose legacy the symposium was held spoke to the presence of the men via Skype. We also see pretentious concerns being banded about by some privileged activists who are more concerned about image than about the welfare of the men even as a report came that last evening the police once again took action regarding some homeless men in New Kingston for the umpteenth time. Let us see how the spin doctoring will be done to report this one as there seems an urgency to deceptively carry out a skewed crisis reporting based on a feeling that Jamaica is the most homophobic place on earth oldie more so than commensurately assist in providing some meaningful redress even as JFLAG and others dither and try to pass responsibility on this on government by lumping general homelessness in their rhetoric but were glaringly silent during very public issues to do with same, anyone remember the street people dumping in Montego Bay some years ago? to name a few.

Where will it end? when some of us including myself watch almost helplessly in some respects as this plays out before our eyes our local efforts can even go very far as opening homes to assist can only go so far and even that comes with its own set of challenges.

Think on these things

Peace and tolerance



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