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INTERNATIONAL PETITION

in WORLD, 04/10/2004

Towards an international Day against Homophobia

Louis-Georges Tin, editor of the Dictionnaire de l’homophobie (Presses Universitaires de France, 2003) is campaigning for a World Day against Homophobia, for an international recognition of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgendered People.

If you also support this initiative, and if you want there to be an International Homophobia Awareness Day officially recognized on the national and international calendar, please sign and encourage others to sign this petition.

According to an opinion widely held in Western countries, homosexuality is said to be freer today than ever before. It is present and visible everywhere : in the street, in the newspapers, on television, at the movies. It is even supposedly completely accepted, judging by the recent legislative advances made in many countries for the recognition of same sex couples. Certainly, some work remains necessary in order to eradicate the last vestiges of discrimination. But with changing public opinion, it will only be, according to some people, a matter of time, the time needed for a movement begun many decades earlier to achieve its goals.

For the slightly more attentive observer, the situation is globally very different. To tell the truth, the 20th century has undoubtedly been one of the most violently homophobic periods of history : deportation to concentration camps under the Nazi regime, Soviet gulags, blackmail and persecution in the United States in the McCarthy era... Obviously, all of that can seem very distant to us now. But quite often living conditions in the world today remain very unfavorable. Homosexuality is discriminated against everywhere : in at least 80 countries, homosexual acts are forbidden by law (Algeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Jordan, Armenia, Kuwait, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Bosnia...) ; in many countries, the punishment can exceed ten years in prison (Nigeria, Libya, Syria, India, Malaysia, Cuba, Jamaica...) ; sometimes, the law prescribes life imprisonment (Guyana, Uganda). And in a dozen countries, capital punishment may be actually carried out (Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia...). In Africa, recently, several presidents have brutally acted on their will to combat personally this “scourge” which they consider “anti-African”. Even in other countries where homosexuality is not considered a crime, persecutions have multiplied. In Brazil, for example, death squads and skin heads spread terror : 1,960 homophobic murders have been officially reported between 1980 and 2000. In these conditions, it is difficult to think that “tolerance” is gaining ground. On the contrary, in the majority of these nations, homophobia appears more violent today than ever before. The tendency is not, therefore, towards a general improvement, far from it.

This is why we propose an International Homophobia Awareness Day. It will have as a goal to articulate action and reflection in order to struggle against all physical, moral, or symbolic violence related to sexual orientation or to gender identity. It intends to inspire, support, and coordinate all initiatives contributing to the equality among citizens in right, as well as in fact, and to achieve this in all countries where action is possible. The organization of an official day for the fight against homophobia in each country will allow us to place our struggle within a campaign of solidarity with all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered persons (LGBT) around the world. But it is also a question of placing our struggle within a wider campaign for the defence of human rights. For many decades now, across the globe, numerous actions have been led in this perspective, not without success. We see ourselves as inheritors of this tradition : we want to reinforce the achievements already won, we want to give more visibility to future causes, and we call upon national and international public authorities to recognize this Day in the official calendar, following the example of the International Women’s Day or World Aids Day. The recognition of such a Day would then be a determined commitment on the part of the international community, which has already come together to fight many other forms of discrimination and social violence, but has not yet addressed subjects related to LGBT rights. Now is the time.

Seven questions and answers about the international homophobia awareness day
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