IDAHOBIT Day provides an opportunity to promote justice and protection for all

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT Day) is an internationally recognised day of significance that aims to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people.

IDAHOBIT, marked on 17 May, is of particular significance as it commemorates the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Since then, there have been many significant gains for LGBTIQA+ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Asexual and others) people, however these have often had a cost, and there is still much work to be done before LGBTIQA+ people are treated with equality in all areas of their lives.

The theme for IDAHOBIT this year is “Justice and Protection for All”, which recognises that in many places around the world, LGBTIQ people still live in fear and danger and can face injustice.

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s 13th global report, this year focusing on state-sponsored homophobia, lists 72 countries that still criminalise same-sex sexual relations. It also reports that many other countries restrict the freedom of speech on gender and sexual diversities, and people with diverse gender identities or gender expression are experiencing unacceptably high rates of social violence and injustice.

While IDAHOBIT allows people from around the world to reflect on their own circumstances, and where they are in the struggle for equality, it also creates the opportunity for those of us in more fortunate settings to consider how we can support and be active in progressing the fortunes of LGBTIQA+ people.

In Australia, while we are more fortunate than others, our LGBTIQA+ communities are still experiencing fallout from the trauma of a “public debate” and vote on marriage equality. Fear mongering about LGBTIQA+ people, mainly targeting gender diverse or transgender people, continue to be features of election scare campaigns. And comments about “freedom of speech” to make hurtful and damaging comments about LGBITQA+ people in public forums continues to be discussed without concern for the impact on our communities and young people.

This year IDAHOBIT is also well timed for people to reflect on the position, actions and policy of candidates and parties in relation to supporting LGBTIQA+ people with the federal election being held on 18 May. Australian Marriage Equality has released information to remind voters of the actions of those politicians who failed to support marriage equality, especially those who abstained from the vote — including Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Unfortunately this has not been an isolated incident with Morrison making his distaste for LGBTIQA+ people clear over time, especially in the first week of taking on the Prime Minister role.

Many local organisations and workplaces across Australia are starting to celebrate IDAHOBIT with rainbow days, celebrations or commemorations. These can be found on local event websites or via the IDAHOBIT Day website.

— Mel Smith, Officer attached to the LGBTIQ Special Interest Group