International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia , Intersex discrimination and Transphobia

Equality - 15 May 2020

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What is IDAHOBIT? 

As a dyslexic person I’m not a big fan of acronyms, I often mix them up. But today, I’m proud to talk about IDAHOBIT day -the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia , Intersex discrimination and Transphobia  

But was does that mean? 

IDAHOBIT is a global day to celebrate gender and sexual diversity, a chance to reflect on the past year on all the victories made for LGBT+ equality and justice. It’s an opportunity to unite LGBT+ people around the world, recognising that celebrating LGBT+  history is not just for Pride! 

While IDAHOBIT might not be the most glamorous sounding name, it is an important date, chosen to commemorate the day the World Health Organisation’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder was made, 17th of May 1990. This still feels painfully recent, at only 30 years ago. 

IDAHOBIT was created to draw the attention to the violence, discrimination and repression experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people communities worldwide. This is still hugely important as while we have made massive strides globally, over 70 countries still criminalise being LGBT+, with 12 countries,  LGBT+ people still potentially face the death penalty for same-sex activity. 

Today more than 130 countries take part in IDAHOBIT  including 37 where being LGBT+ is  illegal. Thousands of initiatives, big and small, are reported throughout the whole world. 

There was plenty to celebrate in the last year, with huge victories in LGBT+ equality around the world: 

  • A year ago today, after years of campaigning from Taiwan’s LGBT+ movement, Taiwan became the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage.  

  • In Ecuador, on 12 June 2019, 5 years after LGBT+ activist Pamela Troya filed a lawsuit to strike down the country's same-sex marriage ban, the Constitutional Court ruled in a 5–4 vote in favour of same-sex marriage, legalising it!  

  • In June 2019 Brazil's Supreme Federal Court with a majority of 8 out of 11 judges voted in favour of making homophobia and transphobia crimes similar to racism  

  • Countries including Puerto Rico, and states including New York and  New Hampshire introduced new laws banning conversion therapy on minors. 

  • Last year in Belfast, hundreds marched to demand marriage equality. This year same sex marriage became law on 13th January following the enactment of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) act 2019,  

  • And lastly, in 2019 LGBT+ Activists like Kat Kol Kes in Botswana and Paula Sebastião in Angola, celebrated their countries finally decriminalising homosexuality– a huge step forward for human rights. 

We have a lot to be proud about in the LGBT+ community – but like the name of our LGBT+ self organised group suggests – still plenty to shout about! 

In 2020 we still need to reflect on where LGBT+ communities are in danger or under direct attack including in countries like Chechnya, Nigeria and Yemen. 

In the states, the US Supreme Court is set to decide whether LGBT+ people are protected from discrimination at work by the 1964 Civil Rights Act this year too. 

Closer to home, recent comments by the Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss on Trans students and the long-awaited Gender Recognition Act consultation, have raised serious concerns about the direction of LGBT+ rights in the UK.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, LGBT+ people are also facing additional bariers to health equality, with almost a quarter of young people at risk of homelessness are LGBT+, usually because of family rejection.

Under lock down too, rates of domestic abuse have skyrocketed, due to the need for self-isolation and social distancing, with The National Domestic Abuse helpline reporting a 25% increase in calls since the coronavirus lockdown began and a 150% increase in visits to the website. More than 1 in ten LGBT+ people experience domestic abuse from a partner, rising to 19 per cent for trans people and during this global crisis many LGBT+ vital networks and support services have badly effected.

As Trade Unionists, more than ever, we must stand together to ensure that this new world after COVID- 19, is one that is more inclusive and safer for everyone, not a step back for human rights. 

So, during this time of lockdown on IDAHOBIT today I’m thinking about all my LGBT+ brothers, sisters and siblings around the world.  If you are not able to be out – know that we are standing in solidarity with you. 

When we wave our rainbow flags on Thursday, as well as clapping to thank our amazing Key workers for all that they do, I’ll also be remembering not everybody is safe to be themselves. So I’ll also be thanking those activists who came before us, who fought for people like me, to be out at work as an LGBT+ person. Together, we must continue their fight, now and post Covid 19, so everyone feels safe at work.  

Nell Andrew, GMB National Equality & Inclusion Officer


'As Trade Unionists, more than ever, we must stand together to ensure that this new world after COVID- 19, is one that is more inclusive and safer for everyone, not a step back for human rights.' 

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