|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) takes place on 17th May every year since 2004. Why 17th May? This was the day when, in 1990, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality (or same sex love) from their list of mental diseases. Traditional Chinese Medicine followed later in 2001 by also removing homosexuality from their list of classified mental disorders (diseases).
Recognition by these two influential global health institutions that loving the same sex is not unnatural or abnormal is widely celebrated by the LGBT community around the world. For centuries, those who love the same sex, and those who wish to change gender identity (transgender), have suffered widespread abuse and rejection by families, communities, authorities, religions, health professionals, education professionals, society as a whole.
What is homophobia and transphobia? It is the fear and therefore the rejection of people who love the same sex (homophobia) and people who want to change their gender identity (transphobia).
This abuse and rejection continues today in many countries. It leads to human rights violations of many Lesbian (women who love women), Gay (men who love men), Bi-sexual (those who love both sexes) and Transgender (those who wish to change their gender identity) people – LGBT people. In Asia and here in Cambodia many LGBT people face violence and rejection from families; a lack of protection by authorities; arrest and detention under the commune safety policy; bullying at school; discrimination when seeking work among many other problems.
This is because many people did not grow up to talk about these issues, as the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon mentioned in his speech to the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on 7 March 2012. Violence, rejection and dsicrimination creates feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and hopelessness and many LGBT people self-harm or engage in risky behavior living in the margins of society. In the most tragic cases, some LGBT people have committed suicide together with the person they love as a way to escape this life of painful rejection.
Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK) is a voluntary LGBT group working to create more understanding and greater respect for and recognition of Cambodian LGBT people and their human rights to freedom from violence and from discrimination; their freedom of expression and freedom of association. Every year RoCK and other supporters organize Cambodia LGBT Pride Week. This year’s slogan is Different but the Same- the same human beings, just loving in a different way; the same son or daughter as others in the family, just love in a different way; the same worker in the workplace, just love in a different way; the same student at school, just love in a different way. Different but the Same.
Cambodia Pride Week has many activities to bring more awareness and knowledge of the LGBT community including workshops, films and art exhibitions. In 2012 Cambodia is the Chair of ASEAN so we will celebrate Cambodia ASEAN LGBT Pride Week and many LGBT sisters and brothers from ASEAN countries will come and join in solidarity to share experiences and ideas for making the ASEAN region a safer and happier place for ASEAN’s LGBT people with LGBT rights recognized and safeguarded in the planned ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights (ADHR).
.You are warmly invited to participate in Cambodia ASEAN Pride Week. Please find the programme on www.facebook.com/cambodiapride