May 17, 2017 marks the 12th Anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). This year’s theme focuses on a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities.
The Day brings together communities from across the globe and calls policy makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to action. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, asexual, queer, questioning and two spirited people (LGBTTIAQQ2S) continue to face harassment, discrimination and sadly, death because they do not confirm to the traditional gender norms that have been set out in society.
May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal.
In over a decade, IDAHOT has established itself as the single most important date for LGBTTIAQQ2S communities to mobilize on a worldwide scale. These actions unite millions of people in support of the recognition of human rights for all, regardless of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Many planned events around the world will encourage teachers to talk about homophobia and transphobia in the classroom; employers to set up programs against homophobia and transphobia in the workplace; and community groups to promote this day among their clientele.
The date was chosen because May 17, 1990 marked the date the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality, listed as a mental illness, from the International Classification of Diseases.
In Canada, IDAHOT is promoted by Fondation Émergence, a not for profit organization that educates, addresses and looks to change the negative realities faced by the LGBTTIAQQ2S community. In addition, it showcases and celebrates their achievements and contributions to society.
Some of its goals for IDAHOT 2017 include:
- promote the growth of harmonious relationships among people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity;
- further the inclusion of homosexual and trans persons in society;
- encourage citizens to understand sexual diversity;
- put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in keeping with the charter of rights and freedoms; and
- show the devastating effects of homophobia and transphobia.
This day is an opportunity to put differences aside and to stand behind what is right. The choice to be one's true and authentic self and the freedom to love whom one chooses is a basic right that everyone should have.
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