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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOT) – May 17

Arms of two people holding hands panted in the colours of the pride flag.

IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia) has established itself as the single most important date for TBLGIAPQQ2S (trans, bisexual, lesbian, gay, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, two spirited) communities to mobilize on a worldwide scale.  IDAHOT brings together communities from across the globe and calls policy makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to action.  Today, TBLGIAPQQ2S people continue to face harassment, discrimination and sadly, death because they do not conform to the traditional gender norms that have been set out in society.

Progress is well worth celebrating, and this is why May 17th is first and foremost, a day for celebration.  Unfortunately in many places around the world, TBLGIAPQQ2S people still face injustice and live in fear and danger, sometimes for their very lives.

OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas says this year’s global theme of Justice and Protection for all is timely in Ontario.  “The Ford government’s recent announcement to cut $133M in funding to Legal Aid Ontario is a great disservice to some of Ontario’s most vulnerable” he said. 

“We need to mobilize against this type of attack on services designed to support low income groups, many of whom are immigrants, refugees and members of the TBLGIAPQQ2S community.”

The latest global report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) on state-sponsored homophobia lists 72 states that still criminalize same-sex sex relations. In 45 of these states, the law is applied to women as well as men. 

Many more states restrict the freedom of speech on gender and sexual diversities, or put other forms of legal pressure.  Only 63 states provide some form of anti-discrimination protection and in some places, initial progress in justice has ended up being rolled back.

“This is why more legal and policy reforms are necessary to ensure justice and protection for all TBLGIAPQQ2S people” said Morgen Veres, Co-Chair of OPSEU’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel.

But the TBLGIAPQQ2S community alone cannot do everything. While social climates have in some places become better over the years by making people feel safer in their societies, in other places violence, including killings, and stigma have actually increased. 

Authoritarian and fascist regimes are on the rise and threaten human rights and fundamental freedoms.  There is a worrying rise in attempts to whip up moral panics and to scapegoat TBLGIAPQQ2S people.  In addition, people with diverse gender identities or expressions are still the main targets of social violence and injustice.

On May 17th, individuals, organizations, institutions, corporations, etc. will speak out against TBLGIAPQQ2S phobias.  They will also continue the collective journey towards societies that ensure justice and protection for all.  In a fair and just world, no one shall be left behind!  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.

May 17 was chosen to annually commemorate IDAHOT because in 1990, it marked the date the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality, listed as a mental illness, from the International Classification of Diseases.

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