What Is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia or IDAHOBIT is an annual day aimed at raising awareness of LGBTQ+ rights, uniting the entire community and shining a light on those countries, organisations and individuals who oppress, abuse, exclude and discriminate against us.
When Is IDAHOBIT
It’s commemorated every year on May 17. This day wasn’t chosen at random, it was chosen because it commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders.
Why Is IDAHOBIT Important
The aim is to use it as a rallying call to unite all LGBTQ+ people and get the attention of world leaders, politicians, opinion formers and legislators.
It’s our duty to hand the next generation a better quality of life and greater equality than we had. And we have seen advances in recent years. Several countries no longer criminalise homosexuality or gender no- conformity and we’ve seen same-sex marriage legalised and education of LGBTQ+ identities increase. But we’ve also been complacent.
As of 1 February 2023 there are still 67 countries that criminalise homosexuality, 11 of which carry the death penalty. There are also 14 countries which criminalise transgender people. So we desperately need to bring pressure to bear on those nations to change these repressive laws. It’s critical that those in power publicly show acceptance of all LGBTQ+ people and stand up in solidarity with those who are oppressed and discriminated against.
In recent years we’ve also seen that conservative religious groups have targeted trans people, this has emboldened many trans exclusionary groups, particularly in the UK and the widespread moral panic whipped up by the right-wing media has created anti-trans sentiment.
We knew all along that trans people were just being used as a wedge to get to the whole LGBTQ+ community, and as expected, religious intolerance towards other LGBTQ+ identities is being expressed more openly and aggressively.
We’ve also seen that far right groups once again feel able to openly express their deep-rooted homophobia.
All of this has allowed failing right wing populist governments to create political culture wars to detract from their economic turmoil, and on the back of that we’re seeing a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
For 20 years or more we’ve congratulated ourselves on how far we’ve come in terms of our rights, but we have to accept that rights are not a one-way street and they can be taken away. Our rights are being pushed back everywhere.
More than any year in recent history it’s become important to remind leaders that we exist, that we are being abused, attacked and discriminated against, and that we demand liberation and equality.
History Of IDAHOBIT
It was originally the brainchild of French gay rights campaigner Louis-Georges Tin in 2004. He’d written a book called The Dictionary of Homophobia: a Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience and felt that as the world became globalised it was important to make sure LGBTQ+ rights weren’t forgotten. It initially began as IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) and was first commemorated in 2005 in 40 countries.
In 2009 transphobia was added to the campaign and in 2015 biphobia was added. However, the IDAHOBIT committee have said that they aren’t going to be restrictive and some organisations have taken the ‘I’ to include Intersexphobia as well.
IDAHOBIT is now officially recognised and commemorated in more than 130 countries, and May 17th has been adopted as a national day against homophobia by a number of countries, including Brazil and Mexico.
Adding the L to include Lesbophobia
In 2022 Linda Riley, publisher of DIVA Magazine, the world’s leading magazine for LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people began a campaign to have lesbophobia specifically added to IDAHOBIT to make it IDAHOBLIT.
Riley stated that lesbians are, and always have been, central to the fight for equality, and face very specific kinds of discrimination. “Those who say that lesbophobia is, by definition, a subset of homophobia are effectively claiming that lesbians are a subset of gay men.” she said.
“This may be unintentional but, intentional or not, it is clearly unacceptable because the experience of lesbians, while it has much in common with that of gay men, is also quite distinct. Lesbians suffer at the hands of the toxic combination of homophobia and misogyny. In practice, this means our sex lives are fetishised by the straight male gaze, and physically assaulted for failing to “perform” in front of a baying crowd of young heterosexual men.”
How You Can Help Fight Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia
Donate to one of these Stonewall approved organisations in countries where discrimination and rights abuses are rife:
Polish charity KPH (Campaign Against Homophobia)
CasaNem, Grupo Arco-íris, and Pela Vidda are all grassroots organisations working on the ground with trans people in Brazil, and all are currently accepting donations.
All of these organisations work to support LGBTQ+ people in the aggressively hostile country.
Transvanilla Transgender Association
The Russian LGBT network has successfully evacuated over 100 LGBT people from Chechnya through its Rapid Response programme.
You can also play your part in ODAHOBIT by proudly wearing some LGBTQ+ clothing.