Wednesday 17 May 2017

#IDAHOT2017: The beliefs that harm us

A welcome picture
Midway through what turned out to be a 4.6 mile (a 7.6 kilometre) walk, at the North Bridge over the Edinburgh Waverley station, a couple I had spotted earlier taking pictures came by and the lady pleasantly welcomed me to their city hoping I was enjoying the views. Somehow, in my curiosity, reading signs and looking at the intricate architectural designs, I had probably exposed myself as a tourist of sorts.
I was attired my usual way that the male partner wielding the camera asked if he could take a picture of me, I willingly obliged and I was thanked for the favour.
An unwelcome digression
With a smile on my face, I had hardly walked another 200 yards when I overheard a man on his mobile phone. “He’s homosexual,” he railed and he went to remonstrate with his friend on the other end of the phone about the men holding hands on the street, that it was the wrong thing to do. The friend probably disagreed with him as he ended the conversation with, “I believe in the bible.”
Whether it was coincidental that a homosexual overheard that snippet of conversation is beside the point, I am writing about it to make an interesting observation. I do not think saying, “I believe in the bible,” is the same as professing Christianity as a follower of Jesus Christ. “I believe in the bible,” rarely has any relationship with the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ who went about meeting people, helping people, healing people, comforting people, saving people and encouraging people.
There is no place where Jesus Christ went pointing fingers except towards the religious establishment who believed in the holy book of the time and restricted entry to others into the grace and goodness of God. The religious establishment was even against miracles of healing being performed on the Sabbath when the law demanded people take rest, but everyone knows that adversity, illness, infirmity, disease and death do not take a rest on the Sabbath, they work every second of day piling on misery upon misery.
I like your Christ
Jesus Christ came with a message to relieve people of misery at every opportunity he had to do that including on the Sabbath. That was his gospel, not one to condemn or indict, but through goodness bringing people to the realisation of a better existence in spirit, soul, mind, and body. Giving people their full humanity, regardless of who or what they were.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi. If I were persuaded to engage and challenge the man, that is probably what I would have said to him, but I was not part of his conversation.
As the story is told, it was the religious establishment of the day that conspired to have Jesus Christ killed. Many who profess to believe in the bible today would probably in the baying mob hollering at the top of their voices to have Jesus Christ crucified at the behest of their religious leaders.
Embracing our diverse humanity
There but for the grace of God and the preponderance of some modern human civilisation in the lands where some of us exist with a modicum of freedoms, we go. [Wikipedia]
There are other lands where no such good fortune exists, places where that man I overheard would not have the limitation of expressing his displeasure on the phone, but have untrammelled encouragement to join in a mob of like-minded people to lynch other human beings for their difference by race, by tongue, by class, by gender, by sexuality or any other distinguishing feature of diversity that celebrates our amazing humanity.
People who because someone believes a holy tome arrogate to themselves some divine right to judge and condemn fellow human beings in the deluded view that they have an unassailable authority to inflict grievous harm and escape sanction because they are doing God’s work.
They are by terms, a stain on our humanity and no representative of the grace, peace and love that exuded from the founders of the religions they appear to profess. For if they had taken on the teaching, the learning, and the exemplar, they would be radically different, but the mob is an easy crowd in which to find and exploit our basest instincts.
I must however celebrate today, the 17th of May 2017 which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), it is a day to recognise those less fortunate than us who have freedom to be ourselves and the liberty to express ourselves with pride and love. [DayAgainstHomophobia]
There are 81 countries where same-sex expression is criminalised and 10 countries in which the death penalty applies, but the 17th of May commemorates the day when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1990. [WHO] This was 17 years after the American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973. [TheJAMANetwork]
The science is clear, homosexuality is NOT a mental illness, and even the Chinese Society of Psychiatry declassified homosexual from being a mental disorder in 2001. [Wikipedia]
Why we still fight for the right to be simply human beings
There is still a lot of work to be done, no one is promoting homosexuality even if it appears that some are a bit public about their sexuality. In the main, most people are private, in rural areas all around the world and just want to be treated as human beings, part of our shared humanity, with rights to be treated with respect and never having to face discrimination for who they happen to be. That is why IDAHOT exists.
Many discover their sexuality in isolation of others, unaware there are others like themselves and they struggle to come to terms with this thing, this same-sex attraction discovery that they are not particularly like others around them. That is why IDAHOT exists.
Those who live in fear of persecution, prosecution or societal stigma, are sheared of their dignity and made less of who they can be as productive and thriving members of their communities and beyond, they are signposts of a world that is less equal than it should be and that is why there is activism, advocacy, protest and demonstration. That is why IDAHOT exists.
We do not intend to impose ourselves on anyone, but we must altogether fight to recognise everyone as human beings first, who regardless of beliefs have every right to exist in our global village, choosing to live and love life without the threat of violence, blackmail or violence. That is why IDAHOT exists.
It requires that leaders lead in the quest for a more equal world of human rights for the child, for gender, for race, for freedom of religion or the absence of it, for disability, for sexual orientation, for age and much else, before the law, in the workplace and in the wider community. Nobody born into this world is a non-person, that is the starting point and each is deserving of being given a chance to just being themselves, within the spectrum heteronormativity to homonormativity and everything including bisexuality, intersexuality, and transsexuality. That is why IDAHOT exists.
These things we may still struggle to understand and find areas of conflict within our narrow or broad worldview, people are people, they may be the same, they may be different, and that is what makes our humanity, making everyone same or different feel at home and safe in our sphere of influence whilst influencing others towards a more accommodating perspective of diversity. That is why IDAHOT exists.
That is why we have international days for many things and today it is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). That is why IDAHOT exists.
I have all my purple colours ready to celebrate the day, shirt, tie and pocket square.
Courtesy of

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