Toronto – May 12, 2016 – The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), celebrated each year on May 17, was established in 2005 by the IDAHO Committee to raise awareness among policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public, and the media of the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ people internationally.
The committee chose May 17 for IDAHOT because, on this date in 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 2009, the (T) in IDAHOT was added to reflect transgender identities. And in 2015, biophiba was added to the day’s name to show solidarity with bisexual identities.
This year’s IDAHOT will focus on mental health and wellbeing. Earlier this year, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) publicly condemned associating homosexuality with mental disorders, a full 26 years after the previously mentioned WHO decision.
So why celebrate on May 17?
Because same sex relationships remain criminalized in at least 81 countries around the world;
Because there are 2.8 billion people globally who are not free to choose who they love; and
Because May 17 is the one day in the year dedicated to raising public consciousness of the discrimination and stigmatization faced by LGBTQ communities.
Common struggles experienced by LGBTQ communities today include high rates of poverty, a lack of access to affordable housing, discrimination on the job, a lack of inclusion in communities, and systemic negligence by governments and social services that fail to meet the needs of people with alternative sexual identities.
Over the last few years, UFCW Canada has worked diligently to expand our advocacy work within underserved and marginalized communities through a diversity and anti-oppression framework. As a leading voice for transgender and LGBTQ workers in Canada, our union remains steadfast in advocating for increased public funding for transition-related medical services and in supporting solidarity actions with LGBTQ communities.
This May 17, pledge to make your workplace one that promotes equality and inclusion of all gender identities. Gender identity is not an illness or medical disorder, and we as citizens cannot be liberated from hate until each of us is free from the experience of discrimination. That requires eliminating homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia in all of their ugly forms.
Paul R. Meinema