The Sexual Rights Centre (SRC) joins the sexual minorities community and key populations sector worldwide in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). The day provides us a moment to reflect on promises made, commitments declared, milestones achieved, opportunities missed, challenges faced, lessons learnt and gaps left in achieving a world filled with equality and social justice.
Allow me to start off by saluting all the LGBTI and gender non-conforming individuals, organizations, activists and allies for remaining resolute in visibilising the rights of sexual minorities and fighting for social justice. Bravo and Aluta Continua Comrades! We have surely made gains but the struggle continues.
I would also like to acknowledge that the theme for 2020 IDAHOT, which is anchored on breaking the silence and fighting for equality, resonates well with sustainable development goals (SDGs). Extreme inequalities on various levels are the defining issue of our time. Rising inequalities worldwide, are undercutting development progress, frustrating poverty eradication, and producing social, political and economic instability. The 17 SDGs are an imperative and a narrative to redress all forms of inequality in the world. Though, the official SDG declaration regrettably, does not give explicit narrative to sexual and gender minorities, there is ample room to include them in SDG-related actions, given the attention to “sex”, “other status” and the “marginalized.” As I reflect, it has almost been five years since the universal call to action to tackle the root causes of poverty and collectively act to make a positive change for both people and the planet. Equality is a central theme to all the 17 global goals. I would like to submit that inclusion of LGBTI and gender non-conforming individuals is imperative if we are to deliver on the pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘’leave no one behind.’’
The sustainable development goals are premised on the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights inherent to everyone, regardless of one’s orientation, national or ethnic origin, colour, disability, religion, language etc. All human beings are entitled to these rights without discrimination. They are universal, inalienable, interdependent, indivisible, equal and non-discriminatory as enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other legally binding treaties and conventions that followed thereafter as well as many optional protocols. All these and many other various country- specific legal frameworks give hope to achieving equality and social justice.
The term equality has become a highly contested concept. Some believe it epitomises sameness between men and women and others believe it is euphemism for “women’s issue”. One then begs the question- what does the fight for equality really entail? - Equality refers to the enjoyment of equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. It implies that the interests, needs and priorities of every individual are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of people. Today we join the rest of the world in clamouring for inclusion and equal treatment of homosexuals as we reflect on the unequal treatment given to them in their homophobic families and communities. We believe equal treatment of sexual minorities is a precondition for sustainable people-centered development. It is also an essential component for the realization of all human rights.
However, we do appreciate that social attitudes towards sexual minorities have improved rapidly over the past one or two decades within many countries, Zimbabwe included- as nations have begun to recognise to some extent the rights of sexual minorities, designing some national policies and programmes for the LGBTI and gender non-conforming persons. However, more can and still needs to be done to achieve meaningful inclusion of sexual minorities in all aspects of development. On this very important day, we call to world leaders to reduce inequalities in all its various facets and forms, leave no one behind and promote freedom from fear and want for all citizens. We implore our governments to do more to make the world more equal and peaceful for marginalised sexual minorities.
I propose and challenge every individual, policy maker and statesman to consider and embrace more strongly the following ten-point actions to make the world a better place for its diverse mankind;
Ensuring freedom from fear and want for all, without discrimination
Eliminating stigma and discrimination. Discrimination against sexual and gender minorities is more widespread and socially accepted than virtually any other kind of discrimination around the world.
Eradicating violence, hate crime and xenophobia, Violence against visible sexual and gender minorities remains widespread around the world.
Engaging in dialogue to challenge social exclusionary ideologies and practices
Empowering marginalised groups such as sexual minorities to realise their personal goals and optimal development
Enhancing political and economic opportunities as evidence shows that on average, sexual and gender minorities earn less than heterosexual, cisgender people and are more likely to be living in poverty.
Enabling the environment as many laws around the world still discriminate against sexual and gender minorities, either explicitly or in their application
Engendering change as most social and gender norms drive a great deal of prejudice and discrimination against sexual and gender minorities
Embracing all gender identities by increasing awareness of the social construction of gender and increasing tolerance for diversity as we all have a place in the universe
Equivocal commitment by governments and every citizen to promoting human rights for all and Emphasising consistent policy and programme approaches that seek to include sexual and gender minorities more fully in sustainable development efforts.
To my community, my comrades, my rainbow nation and fellow mankind- Happy 2020 IDAHOT! Lead by example in being inclusive of one another and living in harmony! Many are our hurdles but we shall overcome. Stay at home and stay safe from COVID_19 pandemic. See you on the other-side! Love always!