IDAHOT was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBT people internationally.
The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
In under a decade, the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia has established itself as the single most important date for LGBT communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale.
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia has received official recognition from several States and such international institutions as the European Parliament, and by countless local authorities. Most United Nations agencies also mark the Day with specific events.
The International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia is not one centralised campaign; rather it is a moment that everyone can take advantage of to take action.
IDAHOT is as important today as the Stonewall Riots were 45 years ago. We may have come a long way since 1969, but with the current spread of anti-gay legislation in many countries our voices need to be heard and our actions taken seriously.
We only need to look at the world we live in today to realise we are far from equal. Russia is leading the way in the homophobic stakes. Harrowing tales from our brothers and sisters in Russia shock us but sadly don’t surprise us. In Uganda, being gay can imprison you for life. In Qatar, homosexuality is also illegal.
What prize for Russia and Qatar from world institutions? A Winter Olympics and a FIFA World Cup. Why should countries that blatantly support inequality and violate the Human Rights of their own citizens be awarded such prestigious events. It is simply not good enough and we need to work harder than ever before to let the powers that be know, that homophobia has no place in the 21st Century.
This is not to diminish from the progress that has been made here in the United Kingdom and in Scotland. The abolishment of Section 28, the equality act, Civil Partnerships and now Equal Marriage. But, as we all know, whilst legislation itself is an important step, it simply doesn’t end prejudice on its own. The world knows that the long struggle for racial equality is far from won. That in itself is a lesson for the LGBT movement.
That is why the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia is important. Our movement has come a long way but so much more needs to be done. Challenging homophobia wherever it rears its ugly head should be a priority for politicians, policy makers, opinion formers and wider society.
So, please download our Unite placards for your collective and individual use in your workplaces and communities. We need to stand proud to say that it is simply unacceptable to be homophobic. The struggle has been long, it will be long, but we must stand united across the world and say we are proud to wave the rainbow flag on 17 May.