The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia ( IDAHOT) celebrated every year on the 17th of May is an annual landmark that seeks to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people with hope of bringing social justice for the LGBTI community.
The theme mental health and well being calls attention to the various ways LGBTI identities are pathologized and deemed mental disorders, as well as to the negative mental health effects that stigma, self-stigma, violence, and discrimination have on LGBTI people.
Zimbabwe has made strides in attempting to deal with some human rights issues affecting the LGBTI community through a number of efforts such as inviting LGBTI people to participate during the International Conference on HIV/AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) 2015, according and respecting access to justice to organisations such as GALZ and individuals such as Ricky Nathanson who have obtained fair legal justice through Zimbabwe’s legal system. Despite the progress, Zimbabwe has continued to turn a blind eye on the violence, discrimination and harrassment of people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, hence violations have continued to impact on the lives of the LGBTI community through victimisation, disownement and being forced out of their homes, schools, communities, places of worship and workplaces.
Organizations working on promoting and protecting the rights of the LGBTI community like GALZ and its members have been attacked and raided affecting its work and ability to formulate strong partnerships with other human rights organisations or sustain its positive impact on the well being of the LGBTI community in Zimbabwe. The theme of well being allows for LGBTI people to also share their stories of love, hope, community, and well being that are found even in the face of oppression.
Limited information, awareness and understanding of sexual diversity and human rights fuel misconceptions about sexual orientation and gender identity, and efforts to address these are sometimes met with resistance. However, now more than ever is the time to stand together despite our differences of race, political affiliation, ethnicity and religious beliefs and embrace each other. It is time to understand that violence and hate can not solve some of the more challenging issues Zimbabwe is faced with.
We encourage decision makers, political, religious and traditional leaders, the media and the public to take leadership on the rights of people affected by violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, taking full measures to establish, reinforce and sustain an enabling environment. There is need to respect the long and hard-fought battles for inclusion, recognition, equality and equity for LGBTI people in Zimbabwe.
GALZ is working to ensure that all LGBTI persons fully enjoy health and human rights, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.