May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). It is a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities. IDAHOT was founded in 2004 to draw attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people around the world.
This year IDAHOT partners with International Family Equality Day to raise awareness and respect for LGBTI families with the theme “Love Makes a Family.”
The date of May 17 was chosen for IDAHOT because this is the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. We look at sexual orientation and gender identity so differently now and seek to respect their fluid nature rather than the previously understood binary notion. This respect for human diversity with regard to sexuality and gender reflects the core values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
IDAHOT is celebrated in over 130 countries including 37 countries where same-sex relationships are still illegal. One of the persistent myths that must be addressed is the claim that homosexuality or being LGBTI is a product or an import from the West. An honest analysis of one’s cultural history, an informed understanding of sexuality and gender, and common sense tell us that LGBTI people and their families are a natural part of the cultural fabric and history of every country. Read more
2.8 billion people live in countries that criminalize same-sex relationships. This reality raises many important questions. How can this be in light of human dignity and human rights for all persons? How can this be in democratic countries claiming the equality of citizens and the responsibility of majorities to protect minorities? For persons of faith who believe in a God who creates and loves all persons, how can we not speak out as sexual minorities are placed in harm’s way by these laws?
“We need to honor our traditional values and our culture,” and “We must oppose homosexuality because it is a Western influence” are the common arguments for maintaining or strengthening anti-homosexuality laws in many of the 76 countries where homosexuality is criminalized. Nothing could be further from the truth when one looks closely at their own indigenous cultures and the influence of colonial history.
Same-sex love is, and has been, a part of human life and history in all cultures across time. While some may describe homosexuality or same-sex love as a Western creation or a modern phenomenon, the witness of ancient art, literature, culture and history tells us the truth and the stories of the variety of human sexualities and relationships. Read more
History was made this week at the United Nations as same-sex love and relationships were recognized and celebrated. Daniela Mercury and her wife Malu Verçosa Mercury spoke to media at the United Nations in New York City and at this forum: Protecting the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) People in Latin America: A Decade of Progress. Daniela Mercury is a Brazilian musician who has sold over 20 million albums and Malu Verçosa Mercury is a journalist. Daniela Mercury is a UN Equality Champion and a UNICEF Ambassador for Brazil. Daniela and Malu were married in 2014 in the company of family and friends.
The video Celebrate Love! is the new resource from the United Nation’s Free and Equal Campaign. It features a new song by Daniela Mercury and footage from Daniela and Malu’s wedding ceremony and celebration.
Imagine a world of acceptance for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Imagine a world that embraces the human dignity and human rights of every person, couple and family irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity. This world is possible.
In 2004, a group of such visionaries created IDAHO, the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the media and the public to the reality of violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI persons around the world. Now understood at IDAHOT, May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
While it is a day to draw attention to the unnecessary fear of those who are different, of those who are our sisters and brothers, our mothers, fathers, friends and part of all of our families, schools, villages, communities and nations; it is also a worldwide celebration of persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.
IDAHOT is now celebrated in over 130 countries including 37 where homosexuality is illegal and criminalized. We are grateful for those visionaries who came together in 2004 to make May 17 a day of education, advocacy and celebration. Every event, celebration, blog post and sharing by social media is part of the local and global work that will change the world to this place for acceptance and embrace of LGBTI people and their families. Read more