IDAHOBIT: Standing up to hate

Today marks IDAHOT, or IDAHOBIT – International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

Every May 17th, we collectively make a stand against discrimination, hate and hurt that impacts on LGBT+ lives, and the wider affect that has on family, friends and those closest.

Sharon Jones, a Perthshire-based writer, has shared her perceptions on life as a bisexual woman and some of the challenges she personally faces, as well as the wider LGBT+ community.

Berlin, Germany

“There are many reasons we may feel our very identity being threatened, too many to explore all in one go – but the biggest reason is the stigma we face just for being ourselves.

Stigma is born out of prejudice, and it can be as benign as a look you get when you walk into a shop or a café or as brutal as being physically attacked when just walking down the street.

We are all aware of it. I am hypervigilant and I am a bisexual woman who easily ‘passes’ for being straight. The problems I have had are minimal compared to lots of others within our community, but they still have had an impact. It’s difficult to feel at ease with yourself when you know you are not like those around you.  When you don’t know if your family will accept you if you come out, or if your colleagues will shun you, or if you will lose friends and the people closest to you. Then there is the process of accepting yourself as you are. I don’t know anyone who was delighted when they realised they were gay or trans or not typically heterosexual in some way.

“Even if you are very lucky and have a supportive family and good friends, you still have to deal with the wider prejudice in society. This is why we need our community. It is vital for us to stand together and support each other. 

The prejudice against us has its roots in religion which at one point held all the power over state, the legal system and the monarchy. The influence held by them has lessened somewhat over time, but still have considerable sway, which in turn has it’s impact on how wider society perceives those who may not fit into their idea of ‘normal’.

It’s common knowledge that for a long time, it was illegal to be gay and most people will be familiar with the story of Oscar Wilde, the great playwright and author who was imprisoned for homosexuality.

What many people aren’t aware of is that when homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967 in England & Wales – considerably as late as 1980 in Scotland, it appeared in the DSM-II (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) in 1968 as a mental disorder instead. The manual was and still is used as the standard for doctors around the world to diagnose mental disorders. In 1968, WHO (World Health Organisation) recognised the manual’s authority, and while this meant that nobody could face the death penalty for being gay, they could endure ‘treatment’ intended to ‘cure’ them and make them heterosexual.

Interestingly, women could not be tried as criminals for being gay or bisexual, but after the DSM was updated, they could be sectioned in psychiatric hospitals and ‘treated’ in the same way as men to rid them of their ‘deviant’ tendencies. Aversion therapy as it was known, involved administering electric shocks or chemically inducing nausea in patients when they were shown homoerotic images.

In 1992 being queer was declassified as a mental illness and removed from the DSM, but until recently, conversion therapy (first cousin to the torturous aversion therapy) was a widely accepted practice.

Earlier this year our government betrayed LGBTQ+ people by failing to bring into force a complete ban on conversion therapy. Instead, a partial ban was passed, which protects cis gay or bisexual people from conversion therapy but leaves trans people and trans children especially at risk of this harmful practice.

This is simply not good enough. We need to stand proudly in support of our trans brothers and sisters and fight back against the damaging message that trans people are somehow not whole and valid individuals in their own right.

Petition your MP, march at Prides this year in support of trans rights, join a protest, push back against this attack on our people. Our community is stronger if we stick together!”

Perthshire Pride

We mark IDAHOT in 2022 in recognition that the fight for equal rights and opportunities isn’t over yet, and there are still many in the LGBT+ community across the UK and the World who continue to be attacked for who they feel they are, how they present themselves or who they have relationships with.

There is zero reason to discriminate, zero reason to create hate, zero reason to cause hurt and damage to people’s lives.

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