As the world prepares to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May, GaySA Radio will be raising awareness about homophobia during the month of May.
“Homophobia is the hatred or irrational fear of lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual, transgender and intersex people – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility,” said the online radio station.
Hendrik Baird, Operations Manager, commented that state sponsored homophobia “has been described as Africa’s new apartheid and has become a red herring, a distraction, to divert attention from the failing democratic culture among so many countries across the continent”.
He also highlighted the issue of institutionalised homophobia in South Africa as “an everyday occurrence in police stations and Home Affairs offices.” He added that, “the rape and murder of lesbians and brutal attacks on gay men are a shocking reality”.
Religious opposition to LGBTI people and their so-called “lifestyle”, combined with ignorance and the notion that homosexuality is “contagious” results in fear and ultimately hatred, explained Baird. “This could easily lead to the kind of brutal acts perpetrated against LGBTI persons as seen in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa,” he said.
According to GaySA Radio, the basis of all homophobia is ignorance, fear and hatred. “There is clearly much work to be done on various levels to combat homophobia and foster a culture of equal rights,” said Baird.
GaySA Radio is stepping up to the challenge. Throughout May, it will feature interviews with community based LGBTI organisations, role models and leaders, as well as ordinary LGBTI persons about their experiences of homophobia and how it made them feel, as well as providing some answers as to what can be done to end homophobia.
By putting homophobia under the spotlight, GaySA Radio says it wants to contribute in a meaningful way to what should be a national conversation.
The International Day Against Homophobia has been commemorated every year on May 17 since 2005 to honour the day that homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1992.
GaySA Radio is an online radio station that has recently started test broadcasts. The Month Against Homophobia is its first major awareness campaign. GaySA Radio streams from its studio in Pretoria on http://gaysaradio.ndstream.net.