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The International Day Against Homophobia, 17 May


May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia, or IDAHO.  Originally a Canadian initaitive, it's been embraced around the world.  IDAHO commmemorates 17 May 1992, the day on which the World Health Organisation de-listed homosexuality as a disease.  The movement has gained momentum since the Canadian Fondation Emergence declared it in 2003 , and this year a number of European governments join  NGOs in Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Costa Rica and the UK in recognising the day.Matthew-Mitcham-Sydney

 Besides not being homophobic for 24 hours, what can you do?   IDAHO UK has a list of events (registration required), as does the international site.  But one of the most intriguing and accessible ideas comes from Sydney.

The AIDS Council of New South Wales and the web-zine Same Same have joined with many other government, private and community organisations to launch a site called This is Oz.  On it, you may upload a portrait of yourself in which you hold a printed or hand-written message which promotes acceptance and diversity.  It also links to initiatives in other Australian states, such as Victoria and South Australia.  I am sure that international messages of support would be welcomed. 

The current galleries include portraits of a number of Australian luminaries, including senators, broadcasters and olympic sportspersons.  My favourite is pictured above, at the top of this post.

I have a cerebral crush on  retired High Court Justice Michael Kirby. With his public statements, his legal judgements, and his work with United Nations bodies, he's become one of the world's great authorities on the intersection of law and ethics. Julie McCrossin In so doing, he acted as a natural supporter of gay rights, placing them in the context of broader human rights, and thus making a stronger case.  He chaired the World Health Organisation task force on HIV and AIDS in the early nineties, and was instrumental in the WHO's decision to de-pathologise homosexuality--the event which IDAHO commemorates. 

Everything he says or writes is a masterpeice of clarity and reason.  Only after he makes the rational case, does he close with a compelling picture of the  personal dignity a such fairness can enable.Poster_homophobia2009_ICON1

I once heard him address a gay charity event in Melbourne in the mid-nineties,  shortly before he came out.  He spoke in his usual calm, measured tones about the AIDS crisis.  Was it a gay disease, brought about by sexual practices many found distasteful, he asked?  Or was it a tragedy which robbed the world of men with immense talent and energy?  In his argument (for it was, in truth, an argument) he skillfully affirmed the worth and humanity of those whom so many despised.  

He came out in quite a matter-matter-of-fact way, simply declaring newsagent Johann Van Vlouten as his partner of (then) 30 years in  Who's Who 1999.  "Johann is my official escort to all public events," Kirby once said, "He and the Queen got along famously." 

May 17th is a Sunday.  From how many pulpits will we hear a message against homophobia?  Just asking.

Photo Credits:  Portraits of  Michael Kirby, Julie McCrossin and Matthew Mitcham come from

EDIT: I'll relax my anonymity policy just this once.  Here's me.  And by way of beautiful coincidence, the theme for Photo Friday this week happens to be Self Portrait, 2009.

Do I make you feel uncomfortable 3aBlueskystudio2

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