May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

If you listen carefully you can almost hear a collective sigh and rolling of eyes. Another awareness day, week, month! What’s the point?

The number of days, weeks, months in the calendar raising awareness for different causes can seem overwhelming. However, it is too easy to simply dismiss them.

IDAHOBiT was created in 2004 to bring attention to the ongoing violence towards the LGBTQ+ community (May 17 became the designated day due to the 1990 World Health Organization’s decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder). It’s marked in over 130 countries, including in some of the places that still criminalise the LGBTQ+ community.

Organisations such as Happy Valley Pride work hard all year round to promote cohesion, integration and equity and stand firm against discrimination. On 17 May we get to join together with allies, activists and campaigners to spread the IDAHOBIT message of acceptance and stand in solidarity with victims of discrimination.

All good stuff but again what’s the point?

  • 350 transgender people – mostly trans women of colour – had been murdered worldwide by November last year. That’s up from 331 in all of 2019.
  • Hate crimes against LGBT+ people increased by 36% in Germany in 2020 the government and campaigners announced just a few days ago.
  • Police records from England and Wales showed that in 2018/19, there were 14,491 hate crimes based on sexual orientation – a 25 per cent increase from the previous year. There were 2,333 hate crimes based on “transgender identity” (a 37 per cent increase from the previous year) (Home Office, 2019).
  • Last year in Hebden Bridge, anti-Trans graffiti appeared all around the town and we have seen a rise in the numbers of discriminatory comments made online.

That’s the point!

These and many, many more statistics and examples globally, nationally and locally that reflect the increasing incidents. Undoubtedly, they do not capture the true extent of the issue. There are many countries that simply do not record or report such crimes. IDAHOBiT provides us a platform to highlight these crimes and to demand action.

It is not just numbers, though they are important we need to look beyond them. It is about people. People like Elie Che, Alireza Fazeli Monfared, Andile “Lulu” Ntuthela and so many more. If you don’t recognise these names, take a moment to find out their stories. What happened to them is hard to read about but their stories are so important to share.

It is also about culture. We need a culture where the concept of so-called conversion ‘therapy’ isn’t something that should be consulted on but something that must be banned outright. A culture where action on discrimination in football elicits the same rapid response as the concept of a ‘superleague’. A culture where social media platforms take action on hate speech as quickly as they do on copyright issues.

The theme of IDAHOBiT this year is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!”, chosen due to the recent challenges that the world has faced this past year. All parts of the LGBTQ+ community need to work together as together we have a stronger voice, together we can make a difference and together we can demonstrate why IDAHOBiT is more important than ever.