Tens of Thousands of people around the world marked the annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on Sunday, focusing this year on transphobia.
IDAHO is commemorated on May 17 each year in order to highlight homophobia across the globe. The day was chosen because of it being the date that homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on May 17, 1990.
Organisations in over 50 countries are thought to have organised activities and events taking a stand against homophobia – and the often neglected but important issue of transphobia – on Sunday.
In South Africa, Gender Dynamix – along with other international activists – released a statement calling for all States “to enforce legislation that ensures respect for trans people’s Human Rights, and for the UN Human Rights bodies to effectively address the issues of transphobia”.
According to the statement, while the World Health Organisation no longer considers homosexuality as an “illness” it continues to classify trans people as mentally disordered.
Gender DynamiX is the first organisation in Africa, and the only in South Africa focusing on transgender, transsexual and gender nonconforming identities.
In France, on the eve of IDAHO, the government took action to ensure that transsexualism is no longer classified as a mental illness in that country.
The European Union took a stand against homophobia by stating that, “The European Union rejects and condemns any manifestation of homophobia as this phenomenon is a blatant violation of human dignity”.
Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe also issued a statement to mark IDAHO, stating: “It is unacceptable that some people in positions of official or moral authority in Europe still behave as if the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply to homosexuals. People who discriminate often invoke morality to justify their attitude. They are making a relevant point, but they are getting it wrong. It is not the homosexuals who are immoral. It is the homophobes.”
The British government also called on “…those states that still have legislative measures in place criminalising same-sex relations to remove them”.
On Saturday, a number of LGBT rallies and parades were held in cities such as Singapore, Moscow, Havana, Sydney and New York. The march in Moscow was stopped by police who arrested around 40 participants.
Over 30% percent of a trans respondents in a European study reported at least one suicide attempt as an adult. In 2005, a Swedish study reported that half of all the trans respondents reported having considered suicide at least once in their life and 21 per cent had acted on this consideration. In addition, in a 2006 UK study, 34.4% of the respondents reported attempting suicide at least once as an child, and a similar figure reported having attempted suicide as an adult.