Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
The day has been observed since 2004 “to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics,” according to the IDAHOTB website. (Some groups observing the day style the acronym as IDAHOBIT or someting else.) It is now celebrated in 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal.
May 17 was chosen because that was the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
This year’s theme is “Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights.” This is “a great theme under which many forms of advocacy are possible: claiming our rights to live our sexualities and to express our gender(s) freely, but also demanding to be from physical violence, from conversion so-called ‘therapies’ to forced sterilisation of Trans and Intersex people,” the site states. “A theme that reminds us that many of us across the world live LGBTQI-phobias in their very flesh every day and that our bodies are being abused, ruining our lives. Our bodies are our lives. And we have a right to live free and in dignity!”
However, IDAHOTB is a decentralized observance, with organizations and individuals everywhere free to hold whatever kind of event they choose. It is managed by a coalition of activist groups, some regional and some organized around a certain issue.
Numerous governments and other institutions have recognized the day, including the European Parliament and most United Nations agencies.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden issued a statement supporting the LGBTQ+ community in observance of the day. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also issued one:
“International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is an opportunity to join together in condemning the vile hate that still threatens the safety, well-being and fulfillment of our LGBTQ friends, neighbors and loved ones. Today, and every day, we recommit to rooting out discrimination from our schools, our workplaces and the very fabric of our society. That fight remains as urgent as ever, as right-wing forces target trans students, Republican leaders threaten to unwind marriage equality and a radical Supreme Court takes aim at Americans’ most fundamental rights.
“Subjected to hateful discrimination and violence, many LGBTQ Americans continue to fear for their jobs, their homes and even their lives. House Democrats have long been proud to combat this inhuman bigotry alongside courageous LGBTQ leaders and advocates — from ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to enacting landmark hate crime protections. Today, we remain unwavering in our commitment to the continued struggle for justice. Last year, the Democratic House again passed the Equality Act, historic legislation codifying non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans under the Civil Rights Act. And this February, guided by the tireless advocacy of Congressman David Cicilline, the House passed the Global Respect Act to sanction foreign officials responsible for anti-LGBTQ discrimination and violence. As he restores America’s global leadership, President Biden is leveraging the power of American diplomacy to further combat vicious human rights violations against LGBTQ communities around the world.
“May today serve as a rallying cry for all Americans to speak out against hate and to rekindle hope for a brighter future. As San Francisco’s fearless Harvey Milk once said, ‘Hope will never be silent.’ Channeling the wisdom of his words, let us renew our resolve to secure the liberation of full equality for everyone, everywhere.”
Equality Texas, operating in a state where LGBTQ+ people and especially transgender youth are often under attack, has released a video in observance of the date.
And below are posters created for the day by IDAHOTB organizers. They are free for anyone to use.