This article was published on May 11th, 2021
The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s landmark decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The mission of the day is to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, as well as campaign against violence and discrimination experienced by those in the LGBTQ+ community internationally.
More than 70 countries globally currently have laws in place that deem same-sex relationships illegal, and in 10 of those the punishment is potentially death. According to www.dayagainsthomophobia.org, approximately 70% of the world’s population currently lives under laws that limit freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity.
IDAHOT as a concept was conceived in 2004, with the first event occurring on May 17th, 2005. The grass roots effort was coordinated across several countries to promote the day and lobby for official recognition on May 17th. The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the decision by WHO to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases in 1990.
More than 24,000 individuals including organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the World Congress of LGBT Jews, and the Coalition of African Lesbians signed an appeal to support the initiative.
Activities for the day took place throughout many countries, including the first LGBT events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. In 2009, transphobia was added to the name as part of the campaign, and activities during that year focused primarily on violence and discrimination against transgender people.
A new petition was launched in cooperation with LGBTQ+ groups in 2009, and it was supported by over 300 NGOs from 75 countries. On the eve of May 17, 2009, France became the first country worldwide to officially remove transgender issues from its official list of mental disorders.
The IDAHOT Agenda
The main purpose of the May 17th celebration is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBTQ+ communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to act and engage in crucial dialogue with the media, policymakers, public opinion, and the greater civil society.
One of the stated goals of May 17 is to organize an event that can be visible at a global scale without needing to conform to a specific type of action. This decentralized approach is needed due to the diversity of social, cultural, and political contexts in which rights violations occur.
Common activities include inclusive street marches, parades, and festivals. Arts and culture-based events are also common.
The Global Impact
As of 2019, 69 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, which means that millions of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals are unable to live their lives openly. IDAHOT is used as a platform for organizing initiatives to advance the fight for the rights of LGBT+ groups in many countries, even in those in which homosexuality is criminalized.
As the movement continues to grow in scale and influence, HomoCulture will be there to report the latest news. How do you intend to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17, 2021? Comment below.