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30 Apr 2010

Hong Kong IDAHO: Day against homophobia and transphobia, May 17

Organised by community groups including Rainbow of Hong Kong, Gay Harmony, Horizons and Amnesty International’s LGBT Group, Hong Kong will commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) on Monday, 17 May at Chater Gardens.

No doubt prompted by the many sad developments this year in various parts of the world, the international organisers of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) have chosen the theme of ‘Religions, Homophobia and Transphobia’ for this year’s commemoration on 17 May. The last year has seen some disturbing cases of the continued efforts by religious fundamentalists in places as far apart as the US, Africa and Indonesia to marginalise and in some cases to persecute queer people.

Press coverage in Hong Kong's The Standard of the city's fifth IDAHO event in 2009. Click to see enlarged image and more reports.

California’s Proposition 8 accompanied President Obama into office, to some degree on the backs of the black vote mobilised for him, and again ended same-sex marriage in the state. America’s never-ending culture wars, fuelled almost entirely by the religious right, continue unabated and have spewed their poison into Asia and Africa. Their allies in African churches have been behind moves to persecute gays in Rwanda, in Malawi, in Nigeria and worst of all in Uganda, where a bill has been introduced to make some gay activity a capital offence and to penalise even those who do not turn in to the state their gay family, friends and neighbours. In many Muslim lands, such as Iran and the Arab states across the Gulf, gay people continue to be persecuted and on occasion executed.

In Indonesia, this year’s conference of the ILGA in Surabaya was disrupted then closed this March due to Islamic militant intimidation. Most recent of all, the anti-gay conservative alliance in the Anglican Church, Global South, met in Singapore and appointed that state’s Anglican Archbishop, John Chew, to be their chairman. It has been a more than usually dismal year in terms of religious actions against LGBT people all over the world. 

We have also been reminded this year, though, that not all religions seek to stigmatise and harass the queer community and that there is another side to the religious coin. The US Episcopal Church in Los Angeles has ended Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire’s lonely tenure by electing a lesbian bishop, Mary Glasspool. Fridae.com recently examined the growing role of the Blessed Christian Minority Christian Fellowship in caring for Hong Kong’s Christians. Sympathetic clergy of all religions continue to work all over the world for the good of their queer adherents. So whilst IDAHO 2010 will no doubt concentrate on the suffering caused by religious extremists, it will also note that many religious moderates and liberals are involved in the fight for LGBT rights. The events of 17 May will include some recognition of this, too. 

For updates, visit the IDAHO Hong Kong Facebook page on which you can sign up as a 'friend.'

In Hong Kong, this year’s commemoration will take the form of a candlelight vigil right in Chater Gardens in the heart of the city on the evening of IDAHO itself, Monday 17 May. As darkness falls in Hong Kong, candles will be lit to commemorate the victims of transphobia and homophobia throughout the world. There will be a display of cases of oppression shown throughout the ceremony, which will be accompanied by some form of demonstration of anger on behalf of the victims and a minute’s silence to remember them. Hong Kong’s IDAHO has traditionally had a ‘die-in’, and this will be continued this year, and the evening will include speeches by guests and representatives of the organisations taking part. The event will close around 9pm. Chater Gardens has been chosen as the location this year as it is next to the Legislative Council Building (the opposite side from Statue Square) and as it will provide the maximum publicity for the event. Large media coverage is expected.

The Hong Kong tongzhi groups involved are slightly different this year. In the past, Women Coalition of Hong Kong, Midnight Blue and the Hong Kong Ten Percent Club have taken the lead in the IDAHO Organising Committee, but these three organisations have taken a rest this year to concentrate on their work in the community. Mainstay of this year’s Committee is still Rainbow of Hong Kong, which is providing many of the volunteers and the event’s MC, Jimmy Sham. The programmer this year is Francis Tang of the newly formed gay men’s community group, Gay Harmony, and the Committee is headed up by Reggie Ho of HORIZONS. Other contributing organisations this year are Amnesty International’s LGBT Group, the Association for the Advancement of Feminism, the youth group Elements, Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong and several members of the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM), including Barry Lee, the Committee’s Treasurer and this reporter, who is its English Secretary. There are three local tongzhi media partners: Brian Leung’s RTHK programme ‘We Are Family’ and his net site GayStation.hk; Green Radio Y Talk; and GDotTV.

The cost of the event will be born by subscriptions, which will cover the loud speaker and display systems and their power supply, the provision of candles and lighters, and insurance for the event. There is no charitable or other funding available currently for this event, so the Committee is looking hard for help. The TCJM has opened a column in its bank account for the event; anyone wishing to subscribe should remit money to the following account, also sending an email to let the Treasurer know at tcjmhk@gmail.com:

Name of the Bank: HSBC
Account Number: 112-194386-838
Name of the account: Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting IDAHO 2010 Account

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-04-30 23:57  
They won't take the snub lying down! No sir! Not gonna lie down!

Except they're like TOTALLY lying down, rendering the attempt at a clever headline a complete failure.
2. 2010-05-01 03:10  
chadm252@1: LOL!

From what I can see, at least they were not there with their bottoms up :-)
3. 2010-05-01 04:36  
I wonder who starts ( or fuels) culture wars? (pasted from the article: America’s never-ending culture wars, fuelled almost entirely by the religious right, continue unabated and have spewed their poison into Asia and Africa.) I am quite confident that each side accuses the other of fueling "culture wars".
The "religious right" is an epithet tossed about by many, but it really has no meaning to most people. As the article did indicate much of the support necessary to overturn same sex "marriage" in California came from supporters of Barrack Obama - the colored community in America - most hardly could be proclaimed rightists, as they voted for an advocate or expansive and intrusive goverment.
It is rare any person or group of people could be so easily put into an all encompassing box that can be labelled anything.

Hate in all forms exists on the left, on the right, in the middle and for adherents of religious, irreligious and non-religious belief systems.
As a rule, my experience has generally shown more love, tolerance and forgiveness amongst a person of religious faith, even if some people of faith pervert their faith with misinterpretations of the Word.

Diversity of thought and action exists in most communities ( I hope it flourishes), so let's stop the labels.
4. 2010-05-01 09:20  
"As a rule, my experience has generally shown more love, tolerance and forgiveness amongst a person of religious faith, even if some people of faith pervert their faith with misinterpretations of the Word."

Religious people show more love, tolerance, and forgiveness according to your experience? Really? I fear that your experience is frightfully limited, then, because history (and current events) do not bear this observation out whatsoever.

And if by "the Word," you mean "the Bible," do take note that this particular "Word" with a capital W repeatedly advocates slavery, murder, and the subjugation of women. Hardly a pile of information from which I need to take my direction in life. I used to be a pretty devout and practicing Christian, but fortunately, I opened my eyes and my mind, and over a period of quite a few years, came to realize that it's all nonsense. Every bit of it. It's all just made-up silliness, which is basically the same that can be said of any religion. :)

5. 2010-05-01 11:15  
You don't need any religion to be a kind, caring and tolerant person. That is just bullshit. Christianity has only been on earth about 2000 years, and not everyone believes in "the word". I am sick and tired of christians thinking they have some divine claim to goodness. In my experience the genuinely kind and good people have been non-believers in any faith. They listen to their inner goodness that is not dictated by some punitive imaginary friend.
6. 2010-05-01 18:41  
The point is the constant confusion between religion and spirituality that the political religious maintain (I mean: adepts of political christianism, political islam, political judaity...) Religion is an ideology and a political construction, while spirituality is searching the true meaning of things. The political religious will insist on the letter of the fundamental texts, and they may pick those letters that suit their own interests or prejudices. Spiritually-minded people will look at (of course) their spirit. And then, since the message is essentially the same in all the fundamental texts, the need for this or that particular religion (or god) vanishes...
7. 2010-05-02 00:55  
We DO NOT NEEED RELigion to be Good and Compassionate...
8. 2010-05-02 02:36  
9. 2010-05-02 03:45  
Major religions and their sects are about big business and power politics. Many are international conglomerates. Every one of them seems to be run by a board of directors and an“elected dictator.” Their job is to use words (artfully manipulated) and if necessary, weapons (legal or destructive) to secure the entity’s relevance and continued existence. The promise of eternal salvation is almost an afterthought. Yet, believers continue to buy into all the pomp and circumstance by denying the ugliness beneath.

Has evil taken over the religions and their flocks? No. Through the cloud of wicked darkness shines an inextinguishable light emanating from the truly faithful whose untainted conscience, genuine kindness and sincere prayers cross all boundaries that separate humankind.
Comment edited on 2010-05-02 09:07:25
10. 2010-05-02 11:55  
11. 2010-05-02 22:19  
"and in some cases to persecute queer people." oh drear 'queer' how positively last century...(;-)) jeje ...personally I don't know any one aside from 1 HIV+ guy with low self esteem who actually identifies as some skanky last century queer
OH yes SHITZUNTONKA makes a good point about christians and others from the other desert religions attempting to monopolise 'goodness' in fact many people are quite spiritually intune and have no formal religious attachments like secularists and Athiests etc. there are of course many good religious people despite their profession to these evil desert religions, just their own inate good hearts.
it's important not to focus on negatives how ever other wise you attract more of the same or worse I suppose thats what separates 'Multidimensional winner Homosexuals' from 'sad one dimensional professional queers'
12. 2010-05-03 11:39  
13. 2010-05-13 12:43  
Agree, Shitzutonka. It is not necessary to have religion to think wise and practice good. Religion is faith. Its good for one who needs sometime to rely on and for guidance. Definitely not for believer to impose on others. Thats pious and ridiculous.
14. 2010-05-13 12:50  
So many religious faith believers denounce and condemn others. Are they thinking wisely and acting for goodness? No...for personal agenda. I dont need religious faith, I let my conscious work.

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