International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Every 17 May, the world joins together to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB IDAHOBIT, acronym for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia). This commemoration is not only an occasion to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but also to acknowledge the long way still to go towards full equality and acceptance for all.

The roots of this day go back to 17 May 1990, a very important day in the history of LGBTQIA+ rights. On that date, in fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, thus reversing decades of stigma and discrimination. This act not only emphasised the importance of considering homosexuality as a natural variant of human behaviour, but also put an end to harmful medical and psychiatric practices that sought to ‘cure’ homosexuality.

Since then, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia has become a crucial moment to raise awareness of these issues and to promote a climate of respect and tolerance. The United Nations and the European Union established this day in 2004, recognising the importance of combating homophobia, transphobia and biphobia worldwide.

However, despite significant progress in recent decades, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people persists in many parts of the world. LGBTQIA+ people are still victims of violence, discrimination in the workplace, unequal access to health services and much more. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia reminds us, then, that this fight for equality and respect is not yet over.

It is essential that governments, institutions, organisations and individuals continue to work together to create a world in which all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live free from the fear of discrimination and violence. This involves not only the creation of inclusive laws and policies, but also a cultural change that promotes understanding, respect and acceptance of differences.

IDAHOT, therefore, was born in 2004 to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision not to consider homosexuality a mental illness. Since then, this day is considered a key moment to raise awareness about discrimination and violence perpetrated against LGBTQIA+ people worldwide.

There are many manifestations and contexts through which, such discrimination can express itself: in the workplace, through physical and psychological violence, through restrictions of civil and political rights. But much progress has also been made around the world to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, yet many communities still struggle for acceptance and equality.

In the most complex cases, LGBTQIA+ people may face double discrimination if they belong to other minorities, such as ethnic or religious minorities. This further complicates their access to basic services, justice, and education, and can expose them to higher levels of violence and discrimination.

IDAHOT, then, reminds us that the fight against homophobia and transphobia is an ongoing effort and that every individual has a role to play in promoting acceptance and equality. Government institutions, civil society organisations, the media, and every individual therefore have a duty to actively oppose discrimination by defending the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.

However, it is also essential to recognise the progress made in the fight against homophobia and transphobia. The voices of LGBTQIA+ people and their allies are becoming louder and more influential, leading to positive changes in terms of laws, policies, and social attitudes.

Therefore, it is necessary to mention here how important the founding and dissemination of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia was initiated by the tireless work of Luis George Tin, French author and LGBTQIA+ rights activist. In 2004, Tin started an association called the ‘IDAHO Committee’ in Paris, to promote the annual celebration of 17 May as International Day against Homophobia. Through the IDAHO Committee, Tin worked tirelessly to raise awareness and promote acceptance and tolerance towards LGBTQIA+ people. His commitment and dedication have contributed significantly to bringing attention to this important day and promoting the fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia worldwide.

After a campaign that lasted almost a year, the Day was celebrated for the first time on 17 May 2005 with initiatives by LGBTQIA+ activists from various countries around the world aimed at making visible the existence of homophobia as a fear and social prejudice against homosexual people and at raising awareness among citizens and institutions about the different forms of discrimination and violence faced by LGBTIQIA+ people.

This is therefore an important moment to reflect on the progress made and the work still to be done in the fight for LGBTQIA+ people’s rights. Regardless of local or global challenges, everyone can contribute to creating a world where love, diversity and equality are celebrated and respected by all.

In many countries around the world, this day is celebrated in the squares of major cities with candle-lit vigils, readings of songs and poems accompanied by music, and other information and awareness-raising initiatives. 

The celebration of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia should not, however, be limited to one day a year, but should be a constant commitment for all of us. We should cooperate to build a world in which love and respect always triumph over hatred and discrimination. Only then can we truly say that we have achieved real progress in the fight for equality and justice for all LGBTQIA+ people.

Gay Lawyers is committed every day to providing the tools to achieve a safe and welcoming environment for all those seeking legal assistance and emotional support. Our mission is to fight injustice and promote equality, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to providing legal advice, we also offer resources and information to educate and raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues. We work diligently to ensure that every individual receives the support they need to face their daily challenges. 

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