Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). IDAHO, which is observed annually on May 17, was originally created to commemorate the 1990 removal of ‘homosexuality’ from the World Health Organization’s list of mental disorders. Since then, the day has become a time for reflection on the state of equality and a time to take action towards furthering the well-being and legal protection of LGBT people around the world.
In a statement on the IDAHO website, United Nations Development Programme administrator, Helen Clark, discussed the various ways the organization is addressing the international LGBT community’s needs, both through global and local initiatives. Just last year, the UN Human Rights Council passed their first ever resolution on human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity. In March of this year, UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay presented a groundbreaking study on violence and discrimination against LGBT people at the Council’s 19th session in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the past year and a half, the UN General Commission on HIV has also been looking into relationships between legal environments, human rights, and the growing rate of those afflicted by HIV. At the local level, the UNDP has supported initiatives in Latin America, such as the transgender organization REDLAC Trans which worked on legal reform leading to Argentina’s recent passage of the Gender Identity Law. The UNDP also supports an LGBT oral history initiative in India called the Bolo Project.
Since its beginnings, IDAHO has been officially recognized by advocates and governments around the world, generating workshops, community forums, and campaigns to raise awareness of LGBT issues and work to create or improve policies and protections. It is also a platform from which to garner increased media attention for the LGBT community internationally. Voices that are not heard enough have the chance to speak out and loudly about what matters to them and what needs to be done in order to meet their needs. As IDAHO International Campaigns Officer and Advisory Board Member, Ryan Ubuntu Olson noted in an Advocate op-ed today, this day “is not just a day where activists gather to address profound disappointment in the dismissal of theirs and others’s humanity. It is truly a global call to consciousness from an amalgamation of people who want to be seen, to be heard and to be recognized for the vibrant essence that represents our shared human condition.”
GLAAD urges the media to share the stories of IDAHO and recognize this day for its important role in fostering equality worldwide.