Breaking the silence: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

For the first time, LGBTQ victims were a special focus of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower legislative chamber, as it commemorated those who were murdered by the Nazis. The annual commemoration of victims of the Nazi regime takes place as the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“In the Holocaust, some 6 million Jews were wiped out by the Nazis and their allies. Thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were imprisoned and murdered by the Nazis.Other minorities, such as the Roma and Sinti ethnic groups and mentally disabled people, were also systematically murdered by the Nazi regime.”

Many have argued that LGBTQ people have often not been included in Holocaust history. As articulated in an article in Time, the persecution went on long after liberation. “The truth is that for the queer survivors of Nazi oppression, 1945 did not bring about any kind of liberation; rather, it marked the beginning of a systematic process of persecution and willful suppression—one that would result in their erasure from the pages of popular history.”

The focus on LGBTQ victims at this year’s commemoration is important both because it highlights the persecution of gender and sexual minorities, finally breaking the silence around the suffering of so many in the community and because it gives us hope.

As sexual and gender minorities living in Ethiopia, it is easy to feel like things will never change and that we will always be persecuted for our gender or sexual identity. History teaches us that so long as we never give up, liberation is a real possibility.

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