Today is IDAHOT: the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
IDAHOT began in 2004, with the goal of drawing international attention to the discrimination, persecution and violence still faced by LGBTI people. The date of IDAHOT- May 17- was chosen to commemorate the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In the past, IDAHOT has been celebrated in at least 130 countries around the world.
This year, activists have organized many events to celebrate diversity, promote equality and protest oppressive laws and practices. Even in countries like Kenya, Tunisia, and Myanmar— countries with anti-gay laws that make activism difficult and often dangerous– LGBTI people are coming together despite the risks. If you’d like to read more about IDAHOT events around the world– from Kamloops, BC to Athens, Greece, here’s a round up.
For safety reasons, some countries are not included in the round-up. In their newsletter, IDAHOT organizers explain, “We have also received information from at least 10 countries where activists requested us not to mention their action, for fear of generating opposition. This is a strong sign that the Day is unfortunately badly needed in most parts of the world. But even if we cannot mention their action, we wanted to salute their courage here!”
Yes, indeed. While Canada and the US still have work to do to ensure that all LGBTQIA people’s rights are protected, activists in other parts of the world face even greater challenges. So let’s salute their courage– and do what we can to support equality and freedom around the world, as well as in our own communities.
How can you help? Learning more is always a good place to start– and today, to mark IDAHOT, ILGA (International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association will release its updated annual State Sponsored Homophobia Report. It’s a great resource that outlines the sexual orientation laws in every country around the world, and it is available as a free download.
You can also help by raising awareness, boosting the voices of international LGBTI activists through social media, writing letters, and offering practical help to organizations working for change. If you are in a position to help out financially, consider supporting organizations such as Amnesty International, ILGA: International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, or one of many others that are working for freedom and equality for LGBTI people around the world.
And if you’d like to help sponsor an LGBTQ refugee who is seeking resettlement in a safer country, I am part of a sponsorship group that still needs to raise additional funds to cover the expenses of a newcomer during their first year in Canada. Here’s our fundraising page. No donation is too small (or too large!) and every dollar is very much appreciated.