May 17th is The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) – a day for the promotion of respect for lesbians and gays worldwide. The day commemorates the date in 1990 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases.
There have been many advancements in gay and lesbian emancipation over the past decades. This is especially evident in our large western metropolitan areas. Gay Pride marches have become huge public festivals and there are high profile role models; gay mayors and pop stars all over the place. One could be forgiven for thinking that everything is just fine.
But look outside those metropolitan areas and you quickly discover that everything is not fine. Consider a small town teenager trying to come out, or the ongoing problem of discrimination in the workplace. I mean, how many openly gay professional soccer players do you know?
Hong Kong’s gay and lesbian community turned out in full force to mark the third annual International Day Against Homophobia.
A first peek at today’s impressive turnout – over 300 participants from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, and many other countries in a show of solidarity and pride.
The sheer diversity of the community was inspiring and exhilirating. Spirits were high, and kudos go out to the organising committee as well as an extremely professional and efficient police presence in ensuring the safety and security of all participants.
In an impressive show of political will and leadership, Legco members Emily Lau and Leung ‘Long Hair’ Kwok Hung marched alongside the gay and lesbian community. Senior Intructor Dr Chan Sze Chi from the Hong Kong Baptist University also gave a moving speech about religious tolerance and acceptance of the glbt community.
Intolerance and homophobia may not be eradicated in a day, but with the combined efforts of everyone in the community, discrimination and bigotry can be overcome.