The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia is today, May 17 and has many different meanings to individuals with different experiences:
- To Charlie Maycraft, who identifies as queer and non-binary, this is a day of action, and a day to pay respect to the elders of our community who fought for acceptance and opportunity decades ago.
- For Nina, as a queer woman, she would like to use this day to celebrate the diversity of our LGBTQ+ community and educate the broader community about the endless spectrum of identities.
The struggle for action and respect for the LGBTQI community is continuing, and one which deserves more than one day to talk about. Whether it is standing in solidarity with LGBTQI+ communities who are denied their rights both here and abroad, or the stigma we face in often unseen ways.
Six month’s on from winning Marriage Equality, we celebrate and we continue to fight for true equality.
One action you can take right away is to call on the USA not to deport Sadat I, a gay asylum seeker, back to persecution is Ghana.
Microaggressions are forced upon marginalised people every day, an act which appears harmless in its intent, however the person on the receiving end is adding this event to the many other microaggressions they may have experienced.
A microaggression may be something such as asking a same gender couple about their sex life, or a trans person to describe their genitals or the surgery they may or may not have had.
Sometimes these questions stem from curiosity – but would be inappropriate if anyone else were asked. Asking ourselves why we feel entitled to know the details of private information about certain people is a vital part of undoing years of conditioned bigotry. Solidarity begins with inclusiveness.
Being a subject of othering is an isolating experience. You begin to question yourself, your identity, and the relationships you form around you. On a day like IDAHOBIT, I want us all to analyse our language and behaviour, because these are what affect others the most.
If there’s a particular subject you feel you lack knowledge on – maybe it’s intersex people, or the non-binary spectrum – find some resources and read up on appropriate terminology regarding that group, and you’ll find yourself learning something new and equipping yourself with right words to say when you may find yourself in a position to defend a vulnerable person.
The beautiful thing about technology is that it gives us the power to educate ourselves – and a willingness to learn is the most valuable characteristic an ally can have.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept and celebrate those differences.” Audre Lorde
“I see a future where we no longer need a list of identities. Individuals will be just that, individual. However, we are not ready for that just yet.”
I still find myself choosing to hide my identity around strangers for fear of stigmatisation. Marriage equality is an amazing step, but to remove stigma and judgement takes generations.
This year, the University of the Sunshine Coast Amnesty action group will continue their work in raising awareness of the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community by hosting a panel of speakers around the topic “ABC’s of LGBT.”
With marriage equality finally a reality in Australia, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture; equality for all.
On a recent trip to Sweden, where discrimination based on sexual or gender identity has been banned since 1987, where marriage equality has been around since 2009, and where an openly lesbian woman is a Bishop of the Church, I was surprised to hear my Swedish friend talk about the recent rise of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.
Hearing this made me more determined than ever to continue the fight for acceptance of diverse identities, to ensure that we never go backwards and only move towards a more inclusive world.
LGBTQ+ people are devastatingly still facing persecution in many countries around the world, and even here in Australia.
It is imperative that the LGBTQ+ community rallies together for each other. With so much support for the marriage equality campaign from all types of identities and minorities, it is time to band together to stand up for others marginalised in the LGBTQI community.
About the Authors
Nina Ashfield is the former convenor of the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Amnesty Action Group and is now a member of the Maroochydore group. Nina’s pronouns are she/her and she is currently active in Amnesty Refugee Rights and the LGBTQI Network.
Charlie Maycraft is the Diversity Chair of the USC Group. Charlie’s pronouns are they/them and they are passionate about human rights & studying for their social work degree.