© Tristan Billet on Unsplash

Today, people all over the world are celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.

What is IDAHOBIT?

Starting in 2014, IDAHOBIT was created to highlight the violence, discrimination and repression experienced by LGBTQ people all over the world. It’s celebrated in over 130 countries, even in some of the places that still criminalise the LGBTQ community.

IDAHOBIT was designed to increase awareness and unite people against homophobia, biphobia, Intersexism and transphobia. Its aim is to gain the attention of politicians, leaders, media and public, and have our voices and stories heard. Organisations around the world join forces with allies, activists and campaigners to spread the message of acceptance and stand in solidarity with victims of discrimination.

On days like today it’s immensely important to acknowledge how lucky we are to live in a more accepting society, but millions of people around the world aren’t so lucky.

The theme for 2020 is Breaking The Silence in a show of solidarity to speak up for the vulnerable LGBTQ+ people who can’t live openly and safely.

There are still 69 countries that criminalise homosexuality, while transgender people still face severe punishment in at least 26 countries.

“On this day, let’s raise our voices and recommit our efforts to put human dignity at the heart of all that we do to build more just and more inclusive societies,” says Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Why is it so important?

In recent years we’ve seen a worrying number of anti LGBTQ incidents all around the world, even in some of the more progressive and accepting countries.

Gay and bi men were targeted and sent into concentration camps in Chechnya, there were brutal crackdowns in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia, youth suicide is on the increase and trans women (particularly trans women of colour) are being killed at a devastating rate in America. What’s more, Trump’s administration continues to attack the rights of trans people, Brazil has a newly-elected homophobic president, and far right groups seem to be growing, even in the UK.

Ted Eytan via Flickr

Last year, Brunei introduced a new law that would punish gay sex with death by stoning. After a huge public backlash the Sultan broke protocol and said the law would not be enforced. This is good news but these laws need to be repealed, not just unenforced. Unfortunately, this is one of many places that still criminalises our community. It’s still illegal to be gay in 69 countries, while it’s punishable by death in 10. Sometimes it’s hard to believe a third of the world still isn’t safe, sometimes it’s not so hard.

Anti-LGBTQ attacks have almost doubled in the UK over the past three years, services are being cut and trans people are under attack on a daily basis. We’ve also seen the recent education debate uncover a lot of deep-rooted homophobia. It’s important to remember discrimination isn’t always a physical or verbal attack. It can also be restrictions to healthcare, education, information and benefits. Discrimination comes in many forms and guises, it isn’t always obvious. This is why we must always remain vigilant.

Days like today will always be important. As a community we need to use every opportunity possible to highlight injustices the LGBTQ community face.

We need to reignite the Stonewall spirit.

Last year was especially important as we celebrated 50 years since the Stonewall riots, which marked the beginning of the Pride movement.

The LGBTQ community has made incredible progress over the years, multiple countries have dropped anti-gay laws, have legalised same-sex marriage and introduced inclusive education. Add to that improved representation in music, film, politics and the media, and we’re definitely on the right track in many areas.

Gay Times

There is a lot to be thankful for, but we must never get complacent. Every day people are under attack because of who they are. We cannot rest until the global community are free to be themselves, to be able to live and love freely.

Allies, we need you too. We love that you enjoy our culture, events and attend Pride, but being an ally is more than that. Speak up when we’re under attack, respect our spaces and listen to our experiences. Use days like today to learn what we face as a community and what you can do to help. It’s important to remember the fight against intolerance is all of ours and it affects everyone.

As a community it is our duty to use the rights we have to encourage positive change. We can all play a part in raising awareness, visibility and spreading some love. Go out there and live your lives unapologetically – you never know who is watching or who you’re inspiring.

Today we come together to send a loud and clear message; Homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia have no place in this world.

Until each and every member of the global LGBTQ community is free to be themselves without fear of persecution, our fight continues. No one gets left behind.

Follow Tom on Twitter – @TJ_Knight