International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO)

Fresh (sort of) from Pride weekend in Belgium comes this post for the Hop Against Homophobia.

Hop Against Homophobia

I consider myself pretty lucky to live in a country where marriage was opened up to people of the same sex without fuss in 2003. Since 2006 adoption by gay couples was also agreed upon, simply by striking out the few words in the law that stated that both adoptees needed to be of a different sex.

Did it change much? Yes and no.

Most of my gay friends are in long-term relationships, but remain unmarried. Then again, most of my straight friends aren’t married either!

The press have become quite open about same-sex relationships since gay marriage. Just recently, the report on our government-back TV station about mother’s day celebrations featured a look at mother’s day at the house of a family consisting of two mothers with three children. They didn’t make a big deal out of it, simply stating that it was a double party for them, and that for father’s day the children were given the choice to make a father’s day present for the moms or for an uncle or grandfather. I loved the casual way it was portrayed; not as something to gawk at, but simply as a look at a happy family.

Does this mean there is no homophobia? I wish I could say “yes”.

Our Antwerp Police Department may recruit at every gay event in the city (and there are quite a few, since we are widely known to be a gay city) and have more than one openly gay Captain, it isn’t all milk and honey.

We may have an openly gay Prime Minister and an openly gay Minister of Education, we also recently had the first officially recognized gay bashing homicide.

Every other week we hear about (mostly) men being cornered and threatened after leaving a gay bar, some being beaten on the streets. Some of my friends have told me they no longer show affection to each other in the open if it’s just them and their partner. It’s only when they are out with a larger group that they feel safer to do so, but the name calling has increased. The sad part is that the name calling (and I can deduct the violence) often comes from groups of young men hanging out together (looking for trouble?). I would hope the younger generation would be more tolerant, and some of them definitely are, but like with everything, they become more radical with every passing year and this scares me. It also scares me that if I go to a gay party, I’m glad there are bouncers at the door.

What is this world getting to?

What are we teaching our children?

We shouldn’t need things like the It Gets Better Project or The Trevor Project. We should all be able to convey to the next generation that every person is equal. Every person is good regardless of their race, color or creed, regardless of how much money they have, regardless of their religion, upbringing, political affiliation and yes, regardless of who they love.

Sadly we still need organizations like The Trevor Project and It Gets Better. And we still need a special day against Homophobia.

Proceeds of the sale of my story You Can Choose Your Friends still go to ItGetsBetter.org ($1.20 for every copy sold). Until this world becomes a better place, please add your support.

And for those who’ve read this far down the post: please comment and one lucky person will win their choice of my back catalogue (one novel or short story of their choice deposited in their Dreamspinner Bookshelf)

UPDATE: Since the hop is over, so is the contest. Feel free to comment, but you can’t win anymore.

46 Comments

  1. I will never understand why so many people are so very interested in other peoples sex life. They need to get a life!

  2. It is sad that there is a need for such awareness-raising organizations. It is sad that two people feel that they can’t openly express their affection for each other for fear of harm coming to them. I hope that my children will grow up in world where it doesn’t matter.

    1. I hope that my children will grow up in world where it doesn’t matter.
      I don’t have children of my own, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t want the same thing. This is part of why I’ve been an activist all my adult life. I’m hoping that with every generation, we become a bit more understanding.
      Thank you for participating in the hop!

  3. Here in my home state (Minnesota) we recently had 2 more teen suicides, one known to be gay-bashing related, the other suspected.

    Thanks for supporting this so important issue. Good luck with the blog-hop.

    1. It’s sad to see how certain big organisations find ways to turn the whole teenage suicide problem in their favor to become even more homophobic. All this while the answer is very simple: love them. Show them they are not alone. Show them that they are great human beings because of who they love, not in spite of who they love.
      Thank you for participating in the hop!

  4. Hi Z
    Thanks for your post. I think your country is way ahead compared to others, but sadly as you say it doesn’t change the fact that some people are prejuduced a-holes! My own country has approved civil union but they can do more and I intend to take my stand when and how I can.

    1. That’s the spirit!
      Yes, civil unions are a start, but they still don’t mean equality. They still single out gay people as “different”, although it does acknowledge that they want to commit to each other. It’s half a battle won. Now on to the other half!
      Thank you for participating in the hop!

    1. You and me both!
      When I asked my gay friends whether they felt safe holding hands in the street most of them (reluctantly) told me “no” and I was shocked. I always felt I lived in a very liberal city in a pretty liberal country, but they say it’s gotten worse after it was better. I hope it will get better again!
      Thank you for participating!

  5. So sorry to hear that progress has halted and actually reversed. We have to keep hoping for a better world for us all.

    1. Luckily our government has responded to the escalated homophobic violence and have send a message they cannot tolerate this sort of behavior.
      Let’s hope it helps.
      Thank you for participating!

  6. No one should be afraid of a simple thing like holding hands in public.

    Thanks for participating in this great blog hop. I’m enjoying all the posts 🙂

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. I’d love a world where everyone could touch their loved one in public without backlash.
      At Pride or other gay events I love seeing my friends more affectionate toward each other. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

      Thank you for participating!

  7. I agree. We need to start with our kids because that’s how change is really going to happen. Our kids are our future. And when people point to the openly gay celebs or politicians and say see, what homophobia? They don’t realize that those people have money and protection that regular, everyday people don’t have. Homophobia still exists, it’s just better hidden in some of these cases. I think it’s sad that we need organizations like these to help people. They shouldn’t have to be necessary and yet they are. It’s so sad. Thanks so much for sharing.

    tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. When I talk to kids about two men showing affection (or two woman, although it’s less clear to children because women are more open about showing affection in public) they don’t have a problem with that. We should find a way to keep it that way.

      Thanks for participating!

  8. Thank you so much for posting! It’s really interesting to see how things are in other countries. Belgium is pretty ahead with equal rights in marriage and adoption. I’m from Germany and our adoption laws still make it very hard to adopt for same sex couples, when none of the partners is biologically related to the child. And while married heterosexual partners get financial support from their partner’s employer in case the partner dies, this does not apply to same sex couples, even when they live in civil union. I really hope this will change for the better but it’s really important to make people aware of those inequalities!

    StormyMonday@gmx.net

    1. Civil partnership is a start, but it’s still not equality, as you pointed out.
      But there is hope. More and more countries are jumping on the bandwagon. The UK might be changing their civil partnerships into marriages soon (I hope), so I’m also holding out for Germany now!
      Thanks for participating!

  9. Thanks for sharing! It is sad that in this day and time we still have the hate,bashing and discrimination. I am rasing my own 4 kids to know that Love is Love no matter the gender. I also think that their Nana’s (my mom and her partner) have done a great deal in helping them understand too. Thanks again!
    allstarjumperstx2(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. You’re definitely adding your share! It starts small, by teaching your children. And I’m proof that this approach works (thanks Mom)
      Thanks for participating!

  10. Thanks for sharing what it is like in your country compared to others. The Trevor Project and It Gets Better Project are great causes. I am donating $1 for every comment on my own blog post to the latter and, like you, hope that one day they are not needed.

  11. I would’ve thought the younger generation had more tolerance and acceptance given the political situation there. Obviously not. But I guess they’ve got to be learning their homophobic ways from somewhere….guess where. Parents have a lot to answer for and some people feel no qualms about spouting their own beliefs (fears mainly) to all who will listen. Hopefully in the future generations there will be acceptance and love for all.
    Kelsey
    kelsey@netspace.net.au

    1. Sadly a lot of the heckling/badmouthing/violence against LGBTQ folks comes from second generation immigrants from North Africa. Not saying we don’t have indigenous homophobes too, but at least there does seem to be more tolerance from that side.
      I have a friend with a gay son who is just finishing high school and he says they’re all pretty open about it at his son’s school and it isn’t an issue. The kid came out to everyone at once at age 12 and has never looked back! That doesn give me hope.

  12. I still have over 150 blogs to read before tonight, and I’ll never make it at this rate – especially since my ex decided to drop the kids off super early – so I’m leaving a quick thank you for taking part and please enter me into your contest (call me greedy, but I am a lover of books!). Then I’m reading the blogs at my lazure – without the time limit. I love reading these blogs. Each and every entry is amazing.

    Erica
    eripike at gmail dot com

    1. You commented, so of course, you’re entered!
      It’s a lot to read isn’t it? I think most blog posts will still be there after midnight. Thanks for your valiant attempt to read them all!

    1. At the same time, the tide does seem to be turning. We need to be patient (saying this as much for myself as anyone else)
      Thanks for participating as well!

  13. I will never understand why it should matter who someone chooses to love. I hope one day it won’t matter.

    thanks for participating in this hop.

    please enter me in your contest.

  14. Okay, I’ve had a proper chance to read this now! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s fascinating to read about the state of GLBTQ matters in Belgium. We have a lesbian Prime Minister here, but I didn’t know there was a gay Prime Minister over there ^.^ It’s the same here with TV and such, they don’t make a big deal out of things – just focus on how normal everything is.

    I’m sorry to hear about the violence and comments. It’s probably like that here too, once people get drunk and go down town. I don’t know for sure though (haven’t been there in year – god, I need to go now that I’m single!). There was a trans man beaten up in a bar a few weeks ago, just for being transgender. It’s horrifying, I didn’t think things like these would happen here anymore, but sadly there’s still work to be done.

    Anyway, thanks for being a part of this hop 🙂

    1. I don’t get it either. Especially not if you read the surveys saying that about 80% of the population is fine with homosexuality.
      It’s like with the gay marriage debate in the US: a small group of people create a lot of havoc and get a lot of publicity, while the silent majority is drummed into a corner.

      Thanks for coming back and reading again!

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