Unpacking IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Exploring the impact of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17

HomoCulture Days of Awareness Tim Slater

This article was published on May 9th, 2020

You may have heard of the acronym IDAHO, but you may not be entirely sure what it signifies—the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. It’s coming up on May 17, 2020, so now is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of how IDAHO started, what it represents and how to celebrate. 

For LGBT people, IDAHO serves as an interesting retrospective on our history and how much has changed as well as a chance to publicize how much we need to continue pushing for change.

It may surprise you to learn that up until the 17th of May 1990, the World Health Organization classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. In 2004, the IDAHO movement chose this date to host the very first International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia to reflect the contemporaneous struggles and stigmatization which still occurs across the globe for LGBT people.

According to the official website, IDAHOT is an entry-point to understanding the vast community of individuals who identify with a diverse range of sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions and sex characteristics. Other commonly used acronyms for the day include IDAHOTB and IDAHOBIT—the day is intended to be used by all, with a non-exhaustive list of issues to publicize and ways to participate. 

Indeed, the day has grown in scope and influence, extending to 130 countries, including a number of countries where same-sex acts are still criminalized. IDAHO is a call to action and a reminder that our community needs to remain consistent in making demands in relation to equality. Accordingly, organizations and individuals are encouraged to participate at all levels—from national to local and community initiatives.

While physical events may be off limits for 2020, there are still a number of ways to show your solidarity on May 17. Socially distant initiatives are a way to showcase your creativity as you get involved—you may be in a position to fundraise online, display a pride flag outside your home or business, join an online event or attend a social media protest. You may also take the opportunity to reflect, indulge in some self-care, and educate yourself with LGBT documentaries, books and art projects.

Discrimination and violence against LGBT people continues to occur at unacceptable rates, and we all have a responsibility to use our voices to speak up, in relation to our own challenges and the struggles of others. A culture of inclusivity and freedom can only extend to everyone if we fight for it. 

Step up! For more information on IDAHO and to register your May commemoration, make sure you visit may17.org and register yourself or your business to join in the springtime celebrations. The 2020 IDAHO theme is Breaking the Silence, and there are a number of online resources to help you research and plan your participation. There’s even a map tool online to see which countries are participating, as well as a list of local organizations which may be able to offer you further support in your efforts.

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