On the week of the 17th May each year we mark a national week of affirmation and action. During this week we recommit to our values of diversity, inclusion, and community. We recommit to listening, and to ending the discrimination faced by all people on the basis of their bodily characteristics, genders, sexualities, or relationships. In particular, we affirm our dedication to supporting the health and wellbeing of our communities during these times of intense social change.
Although it began as the ‘International Day Against Homophobia’ (IDAHO), the scope of this day has continued to expand. These days, the Alliance refers to May 17th as IDAHOBIT or the ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia’. This expansion aims to acknowledge the ways in which bisexual people, those with intersex characteristics, and trans people, are also impacted by the effects of discrimination and fear. Each of these communities face distinct forms of oppression and violence and often their voices and stories are silenced or erased. Even a commonly used term like ‘homophobia’ can hide the important distinctions between the experiences of gay and lesbian people.
A key theme in any inclusion project is finding the balance between using commonly understood categories and labels, and creating opportunities for the unique stories and experiences of each person and community to shine through. The true diversity of human bodies, genders, and relationships, goes far beyond the scope of any acronym or label. There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between diversity and community.
This year we asked members of our communities to offer reflections on what this day means to them and their organisations. Below are some of those reflections. We hope they help to inspire you in your work this year, and we invite you to send us your reflections: www.lgbtihealth.org.au/contactus Thanks to everyone who sent these in.
Transgender Victoria [TGV]
Words from Brenda Appleton…
IDAHOBIT is a day to celebrate with allies and community what it means to be a member of the LGBTI communities. It is good to reflect on how much better the environment is today, but to also refocus on what we still want to achieve.
I love that so may different organisations will commemorate in a wide range off supportive and inclusive ways and send a positive signal to LGBTI staff, consumers and allies that we embrace and support LGBTI people. Let’s see lots of rainbow colours, cakes and biscuits on a day when we can stand tall and be proud of who we are.
TGV is fortunate to be based in Victoria and have such a supportive and understanding Government. We look forward to working with Government and community to better meet the needs of our changing and evolving community. We need to improve the situation for gender diverse and non-binary people who suffer higher rates of misunderstanding, discrimination, homelessness and unemployment.
What do you see as an important current challenge when it comes to addressing bi-phobia, transphobia, and homophobia? I would like to see more support within LGBTI communities for others under the LGBTI umbrella. I think there is too much lateral violence against others within the overall community and our challenge is how do we become more accepting of difference and set the right tone for society as a whole.
Misty Farquhar – Individual Member
To me, IDAHOBIT is as much about raising awareness of discrimination in mainstream society as it is about raising awareness in our own community. Bisexuals, and those who evade binary categorisation, are constantly questioned about our authenticity, which threatens our visibility and excludes us from the community at large. Questions like, “Are you just indecisive? Confused?” work to invalidate us. Unfortunately, these misconceptions come from both mainstream society and the LGBT community, despite evidence suggesting that the population of bisexuals may actually be larger than the lesbian and gay populations combined. Yet intra-LGBT discrimination seems unthinkable given the blaring ‘BT’ right there in the acronym.
IDAHOBIT for us is a continuation of the fight for bi-visibility. Far too many organisations and people (often well meaning) exclude biphobia from the acronym, which when pointed out results in defensiveness, claims that biphobia is just the same as homophobia, and actual bibphobia.
IDAHOBIT also shows the recognition that we are still fighting for. It shows us that although we have come a long way we still have a ways to go to be fully inclusive of all parts of the wider LGBTIQ+ community, such as inclusion of Acephobia.
That more people and organisations refer to IDAHOBIT, that they include bisexuals and our experience of biphobia in their material, their events, and that we have to fight less to be visible and recognised as part of the LGBTI communities. Also that hopefully next year sees an embrace of including bisexuality in mainstream and acceptance among the greater community. When we fight alone we are vulnerable, but together we have strength. We also hope over the next 12 months that the bisexual community in Victoria, and Australia, will be able to attract funding to represent the community and provide peer support.
Rainbow Youth – New Zealand
IDAHOBIT, and other days like it represents for RainbowYOUTH a chance to reach allied communities, friends and whānau of queer and gender diverse young people. It’s important to our organisation that our community isn’t working in isolation to fight homophobia, transphobia and biphobia – and days like IDAHOBIT is a great moment to encourage allies to speak out and get involved.
RainbowYOUTH also values how important education around homophobia, transphobia and biphobia is. IDAHOBIT is a great platform to begin conversations about the types of discrimination that often go unchallenged, or aren’t as easy to recognise as an ally.
One of the important challenges is holding mainstream services / organisations accountable to the queer, intersex and gender diverse community. Our community doesn’t exist in a bubble, we’re out in the world. And, while queer, intersex and gender diverse specific services do incredibly important work, mainstream organisations have a huge part to play in making sure that whatever service they provide is accessible to everyone.
Freedom Centre – Western Australia
We think IDAHOBIT is the day you can celebrate and feel super justified in expecting and creating a world where there’s no discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people. We hope to see the state and territory EO legislation be updated to meet the amended Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act. We hope to see funded state and federal health, mental health and human rights education, promotion and services that work to diminish discrimination and marginalisation of LGBTIQ people.
What do you see as an important current challenge when it comes to addressing bi-phobia, transphobia, and homophobia? People taking the time to learn and talk respectfully about a people’s LGBTIQ+ diversity – listening to people’s stories, understanding the facts, understanding privilege and speaking up all takes time and effort that we need people to take to do the right thing. Any kind of change causes discomfort too, let alone this kind of cultural change.
Mental Illness Fellowship of QLD
For MIFQ IDAHOBIT is about ongoing education and raising awareness. We believe education is a key element in reducing discrimination that occurs. When people have a greater understanding they are able to also pass their knowledge on and further challenge these phobias..
Our hopes for the next year are for a greater understanding and acceptance of the diverse and loving relationships that exist across Australia. One of the biggest challenges is actually challenging these phobias. When people have sound education and knowledge it is a great tool for when it is necessary to challenge these phobias especially for Trans people. We would like to see a greater understanding of the issues for Trans people including the impacts on mental health during transitioning and a greater understanding across our communities.
Victorian AIDS Council [VAC]
With IDAHOBIT fast approaching it seems fitting to highlight the fact that the Melbourne LGBTIQ MindOUT Network meeting will be running that evening.
The focus of the evening is LGBTIQ Aging and the need for the Aged Care Sector Nationally to become more aware and inclusive of our elders when they are accessing aged care supports.
Dr Philomena Horsley from GLHV will be delivering her research and an overview of the training she has been delivering to the aged care sector over these past 18 months or so.
Further to the Melbourne MindOUT Network meeting on May 17th VAC we will be launching the newly created Tran’s and Gender Diverse Medical Clinic operating two days a week at present and located in Fitzroy.
The clinic has been branded as the Equinox Clinic and the project has been developed with community consultation ongoing via VAC’s Trans & Gender Diverse Advisory Group. The launch of Equinox is a defining moment for VAC, as the largest LGBTIQ health services provider in Victoria, Equinox sees VAC as taking meaningful steps toward delivering dedicated health services for the Trans and Gender Diverse communities.
Overall I would say that IDAHOBIT Day for VAC means inclusivity and community participation; these values and practices have recently been embodied in VAC’s Community and Consumer Participation policy which states:
VAC is a community led organisation that is driven by the engagement of our communities: All those living with and affected by HIV and the Sexually & Gender Diverse communities…VAC is committed to actively and meaningfully involving consumers and community members in decision making, service development, delivery and evaluation. VAC recognises that the perspective of the community is an essential and valuable resource for the organisation.