The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is observed on May 17th and helps to coordinate International events that bring awareness to the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community, bring focus to violations and to stimulate interest in LGBTQ2S+ rights around the world.
It is very important to commemorate this day and to reflect on its origins. The date was chosen to mark the day that the World Health Organization (WHO) made a decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases back in 1990.
The day, as a concept, was conceived in 2004. After a year-long campaign culminated in the first International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2005. 24,000 individuals as well as organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the World Congress of LGBTQ2S+ Jews and the Coalition of African Lesbians signed an appeal to support the “IDAHO initiative”. Activities for the day took place in many countries, including the first LGBTQ2S+ events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. The date of May 17 was also specifically chosen to commemorate the WHO’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In 2003, Ontario and British Columbia became the first two provinces to legalize same-sex marriage. The federal Civil Marriage Act came into force on 25 July 2005, making same-sex marriage legal across Canada. Canada became the fourth country to permit same-sex marriages, after the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003) and Spain (2005).
The broader labour movement has historically been at the forefront in the fight for LGBTQ2S+ rights. Over the past decades union member sought the inclusion of sexual orientation in employer anti-discrimination policies, lobbied for marriage equality, campaigned for transition support for transgender members, and fought to uphold the rights to gender identity and expression in our workplaces and our communities.
The main purpose of sharing stories and embracing events is to draw the attention of the public, the media, social movements, opinion leaders and policymakers against discrimination, violence and repression experienced by LGBTQ2S+ communities worldwide. It is supported by millions of people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We all need to take part and commit to taking action in our communities to end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Celebrate May 17th, 2021 by wearing the rainbow, adding your voice to causes is a great way to do your part. By Supporting LGBTQ2S+ as well as recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia we will continue to build awareness and to bring new and different perspectives that the contributions of the LGBTQ2S+ community is valued as well as a vibrant component to society.
UVAE Human Rights Committee