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IDAHAOT

By Alex

O Once a year, an event known as the international day against homophobia and transphobia (IDAHOT) i is commemorated worldwide annually and took place, this year, for the second time in Swazi history. It was held at the Manzini club and was also the first time I had the opportunity to attend. This is a day set aside for all people, regardless of sexual orientation to meet, improve their knowledge by sharing ideas and listening with an open mind free from prejudice and judgment.

I fully stand behind and appreciate all that IDAHOT represents. That said I do believe the great Martin Luther King Jr said it best when he said 'Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity' and the very need for this day to exist is a travesty to the progress we, not just as a nation but also as human beings have made. This sentiment I believe is shared by most if not all in attendance and the very aim of IDAHOT is a testament to how archaic our belief system and mindset actually is. It is because of ignorance that homophobia, transphobia and their resulting hate crimes are still rampant today.

Men and women of all shapes, colours and sizes came in droves to support the LGBTII community, some members of said community and others not. What stood out for me was that, these were all normal people, functioning members of society not beasts with horns sticking out their heads and tails growing from their spines whose sole purpose was to corrupt the innocent. These were all people whose desire is to live their lives free to be who they are without fear of any physical or emotional harm coming to them as a result of their sexual orientation. Present were those responsible for making the event a reality, organizers Rock Of Hope and representatives from invited organizations like HOOP, the Ministry of Health and NERCHA to mention a few... to show their support. Great importance was placed on safe sex practices by all the present organizations in the form of educational talks on the risks and prevention measures as well handing out free packs containing condoms, lubricants and dental dams.

A light was shed on the obstacles faced by the LGBTI community on a daily basis, different points of views about the reasons for homophobia and transphobia were given and what captured my interest was the opinion some people had that the LGBTI court hate crimes and discrimination by living living out in the open and this struck a chord as it holds a similarity to rape victim mentality, the belief that women provoke rape by wearing miniskirts. Hate crimes are a violation of the basic human right to safety, there is never a justification behind hurting a fellow human being based on their sexual orientation.

After all was said and done it was a lovely day spent with likeminded people simply sharing ideas and learning to combat ignorance. Talented poets performed their pieces followed by great performances by groovy artists and creative dancers. Lunch was then served outside under the clear blue sky and crisp fresh air, gentle lilting music in the background. People then mingled and the sound of laughter and fun filled the air and I was struck by the camaraderie displayed by people who had previously never met giving off a wonderful feeling of unity. All in all I believe the purpose of this day was achieved and everyone left better informed and aware of this wonderful support system in place for all going through LGBTI related challenges in this beautiful country of ours, so I can only add that I very much look forward to next year's event.

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