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
Two gay men who escaped Syria and Iraq with their lives shared their experiences of discrimination and violence against LGBT people at a historic session of the UN Security Council in New York City on August 24. Subhi Nahas, a Syrian refugee living in the United States, addressed the council in person. Out of concern for his family’s safety back in Iraq, “Adan” spoke to the council by cell phone using a pseudonym.
“It’s about time, 70 years after the creation of the UN, that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking center stage. This represents a small but historic step,” said Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations.
Chile’s Ambassador to the UN, Cristian Barros Melet joined the US Ambassador Samantha Power in organizing this special meeting of the UN Security Council. While LGBT rights have been the subject of several meetings of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, this was the first time LGBT persons and rights were the focus of a meeting of the UN Security Council. Read more
It was an idea whose time had come. For two decades, Rev. Dr. Stephen Suleeman, lecturer at Jakarta Theological Seminary, held fast to a dream for a LGBT-affirming faith conference in Indonesia. His dream was realized with the International Consultation on the Church and Homophobia, November 23 – 26 at Jakarta Theological Seminary.
When Stephen invited me to come to Jakarta for this historic, first-ever LGBT faith conference in Indonesia, the only possible answer was “yes.” The journey for Stephen and the seminary was two decades and my journey to Jakarta was 9,809 miles.
Today is the International Human Rights Day and a celebration of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This recent conference in Jakarta embodied the heart and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights particularly as it relates to LGBT persons and their families. Read more