International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17 aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide.
The day, as a concept, was conceived in 2004. A year-long campaign culminated in the first International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2005. 24,000 individuals as well as organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the World Congress of LGBT Jews, and the Coalition of African Lesbians signed an appeal to support the “IDAHO initiative”. Activities for the day took place in many countries, including the first LGBT events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. In 2009, transphobia was added to the name of the campaign, and activities that year focused primarily on transphobia (violence and discrimination against transgender people). Biphobia was added to the name of the campaign in 2015.
The main purpose of the May 17 actions is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBT communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take action and engage in dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and wider civil society.
The day is particularly strong in Europe and Latin America, where it is commemorated with public events in almost all countries. May 17 is also marked in multiple countries in all world regions including, in 2013, 32 of the 76 countries in the world, where same-sex relationships are criminalized.
Arts and culture-based events are also common. Activists in 100 cities, in 50 countries participated with diverse public events spanning colored balloon releases, dance flashmobs, hanging the rainbow flags, musical events, and performance and street art.
We hopefully governments and civil society organizations work together to ensure justice and protection for the LGBTI community to ensure no one shall be left behind. Let’s celebrate this day and make sure that many areas of our LGBTI lives as personal safety and security, opportunities for meaningful and fulfilling employment, access to education, legal gender recognition, adequate housing, and appropriate and compassionate healthcare will be available for us all.
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Lesley Middleton, owner of PINK IN OUR LIVES
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