5th IDAHO HK
“May 17 is a day that represents homosexuality not being a disease anymore,” says Penelope Chan from the Women’s Coalition of Hong Kong, a key organiser of the International Day Against Homophobia Hong Kong (IDAHO).
Established in 2005, the day sees events worldwide, all in the name of taking a stand against homophobia. “There are still a lot of places around the world where people are discriminated [against]. They want to stop that and promote the idea that everyone should be equal and stop anti-sexuality,” says Chan.
In contrast to the pride parades around the world (Hong Kong hosted its first in 2008), which are generally a celebration of being homosexual and out of the closet, IDAHO bears a different message. “For IDAHO,
the focus is on homophobia but not the identity itself. In 2005, the first year, I think about half of the participants were not LGBT people,” says Yeo Wai-wai, another member of the WCHK.
In past years, crowds have gathered at Hong Kong’s version of IDAHO, collectively standing against discrimination of people of gay and lesbian orientation. But with a significant delay and resistance to the implementation of LGBT-related laws, the message this year has become more focused, specific and political. “The focus [in 2009] is very clearly on legislation,” says Yeo.
Ordinances relating to domestic violence and sexual orientation discrimination are at the top of the agenda. Indeed, the government has promised that the Domestic Violence Ordinance, which will afford same-sex couples identical protection to male-female couples if passed, will be considered in LegCo later this year. But what about legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexuality?
“We would like a [Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance] to cover things such as employment, services, and education,” says Yeo. However, the prospect of such an ordinance, at least for the moment, seems quite bleak, with governmental discussion about it disappearing years ago. Nothing has been heard since. “The local LGBT community [must be] very patient, right?” deadpans Yeo.
To get the message across this year, numerous LGBT groups from across the city, have joined forces. Protest and action will be the catch-cries of this year’s event, as a mini-protest march, beginning at LegCo (where a petition will be presented), makes its way to the Central Government Offices.
Over the years, the positive effects of IDAHO have begun to filter into the community, with a more accepting attitude spreading into the general community. But with increasingly outspoken opposition to the passing of these government ordinances, both Chan and Yeo are hopeful of a good turnout. Get along on Sunday 17, and voice your support. It could make all the difference.