May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

In 1990, on May 17th, the World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder marked a significant step towards destigmatizing diverse sexual orientations. However, the ideologies that once criminalized and medicalized homosexuality persist today, with governments globally restricting the rights of queer and transgender individuals. 

The discussions of LGBTQIA+ discrimination often overlook countries deemed as “progressive.” By analyzing our own environments, we can see there is ongoing violence and discrimination in our own backyard. Across Europe, rights violations and hate crimes continue to be serious issues for members of the LGBTQIA+ community both in countries with and without legal protections (see here). In the Netherlands, a country often considered progressive and queer-friendly reported 2,654 instances of LGBTI+ violence and discrimination in 2022, which is an increase of over 200 from the year prior. This indicates not only that there is a large issue of discrimination still but also that, unfortunately, it is rising. This rise in discrimination underscores the urgent need for continued advocacy and awareness; we cannot become complacent. 

Despite progress in LGBTQ+ rights, discrimination persists. Many face discrimination, marked by countless phobias. It’s crucial for everyone, regardless of orientation, to join the fight against discrimination. Even within our seemingly progressive communities, we need this reminder. Hate groups like trans-exclusive radical feminists (TERFS) try to divide, and often, bisexual people and their relationships are delegitimized. Progress cannot halt simply because homosexuality is decriminalized; we cannot allow seemingly small biases and ignorance to persist and enable larger discrimination. 

Combatting homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia is about ensuring safety and rights globally. Recognition and protection of queer individuals, regardless of cultural context, are essential. Far too often, we see homophobia weaponized for xenophobia and used to demonize and dehumanize entire segments of the world and ethnicities, based on notions of western queerness. Queerness and transness exist everywhere, and unfortunately, so do these phobias we are committed to fighting. 

This year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia theme, “No one left behind: Equality, freedom, and justice for all,” prompts thoughts of those trapped in inhumane conditions, unable to live freely or exist as they are. As this years theme suggests, concern should be directed towards the equality, freedom, and justice of everyone. True freedom and justice will not be achieved until it is demanded and won for all; this encompasses queer communities worldwide fighting for deserved rights. Queer and trans people have always, and will always exist. We are present everywhere, and if your idea of queer rights is limited to where you live, it’s time to think more broadly. 

Here at Share-Net Netherlands, we have many members doing great work in LGBTQIA+ inclusion with a wide reach. One such organization is Treat it Queer. Check out the amazing Share-Net funded knowledge product they created to make the medical sphere more inclusive and give voice to otherwise marginalized queer individuals. You can find it here: Treat it Queer Knowledge Product 

Image Credit: Iva Tokmakchieva for Fine Acts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.