It was on 17 May in 1990 that the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases.
For that reason, 17 May was chosen by the founders of the International Day Against Homophobia – IDAHO .
The language surrounding the day has since been expanded to include Biphobia and Transphobia, so we now refer to the annual day of action as IDAHOBIT.
The driving force behind the establishment of IDAHOBIT was Louis-Georges Tin.
IDAHOBIT was established to help raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBTQ communities around the world – giving a point of focus in which to engage the media, policy-makers, and the wider public. It’s a day that is recognised globally, and encourages local action.
This is a day that is generally embraced by community and political leaders in many parts of the world – rainbow flags are flown, speeches are made, tweets are tweeted.
IDAHOBIT also presents an opportunity for us all to pause and reflect. The World Health Organisation may no longer consider homosexuality a disease, but the world is still a dangerous place for most LGBTQIA+ people.
There’s over 70 countries where being gay is illegal. A number of those countries punish homosexuality with death, many others impose imprisonment.
Even in countries where we are protected by anti-discrimination legislation, all too often we are the victims of hate-crimes – simply because of our sexuality.
While recognising the challenges that remain, it’s also important to recognise the progress that has been made.
Achieving marriage equality in a number of countries around the world has been a big deal. It doesn’t mean that everyone wants to get married – or that being able to get married somehow makes LGBTQ people ‘normal’ – but it is a material step forward in removing discrimination and working towards equality.
In a number of countries, the representation of LGBTQ people in the media is getting better. We’re also seeing the emergence of some really powerful role models.
To mark IDAHO in 2022, let’s make sure that we take a world view. We need to understand our history, to appreciate the struggles of those who have gone before us. We need to understand the context that defines the communities in which we live, but also the experiences of those in other parts of the world.
None of us chose to be LGBTQ. None of use had a choice in where we were born. Some of us got lucky.
Things are getting better for some people in some places, things are not getting better for others. In many places around the world, things are getting a lot worse for people who identify as LGBTQ.
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