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International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) 2017

May 16th 2017

Despite some legal and social advances in the past two decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence in many countries. This leads to exclusion and adversely affects both the lives of LGBTI people as well as on the communities in which they live. This article explains the importance of IDAHOT and the highlights of this day as well as the contribution of equality bodies to the advancement of equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

What is IDAHOT?

17 May marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). The Day represents an annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms.

The date was chosen in commemoration of the World Health Organisation’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1990. Since then, progress has been made in the advancement of equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, however, discrimination, homophobia and intolerance still remains throughout Europe.

The prohibition of discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation was written into the Lisbon Treaty which entered into force in 2009.

Equinet and Equality Bodies’ work on LGBTI+

In 2015, 34 Equinet members had a mandate to address discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and 27 had a mandate to address discrimination on the ground of gender identity in employment or beyond (education, housing, social protection and goods and services).

Equinet’s Working Group on Policy Formation is currently working on a Factsheet on Equality Bodies contributing to the List of Actions by the European Commission to advance LGBTI equality. This will build on our 2013 publication Equality Bodies promoting equality and non-discrimination for LGBTI people. We also have a publication from 2010 on Making equality legislation work for Trans people.

Some highlights from our members...*

*This is not extensive and will be added to with relevant information over the coming days

As part of their 2017 theme year on sexual orientation, the Federal Antidiscrimination Agency in Germany is holding an action day in front of the Brandenburger gate on the Same Rights for Every Love. In addition, the head of FADA Christine Lüders, agreed to participate in an interview where she talks about this action day as well as the everyday homo and trans-phobia.

Our colleagues at the Commissioner for Protection of Equality in Serbia have included a chapter on sexual and gender minorities in their upcoming Annual Report 2016.

In Northern Ireland, the Equality Commission has done a great deal on LGBTI rights, not least through their recent case Lee v Asher’s Bakery Company Limited. Read also their most recent policy paper on LGB rights in Northern Ireland and the recent policy paper on Gender Equality which deals with transgender issues also. On a related note, Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, is speaking at Spectrum, Agape Centre, Belfast, for LGBT people and allies. For more on the LGBT Awareness Week 2017 in Northern Ireland, you can view the flyer here.

Our colleagues from Belgium, Unia and the Institute for Equality for Women and Men, will be joining Equinet with a stand at this year’s IDAHOT Forum. Furthermore, the Institute is currently looking for feedback from transgender people living in Belgium to find out what life is like for them here.

The Defender of Rights in France published a guide to "Tackling Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace" in french. This new guide highlights the characteristics of discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace and proposes concrete solutions to identify and prevent them, mainly through creating awareness, training staff and developing HR policies to ensure equal treatment. In addition, the head of the Defender of Rights Jacques Toubon, participated in an interview which you can find here.

On this day, the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG) in Portugal will be represented in the international conference ’Faith in equality: LGBTI people, religion and spirituality’ in Lisbon. The CIG will also hold a session to raise awareness together with several sports associations. This session will emphasise the important path already taken by Portugal in the recognition of the rights of LGBT people.

In Hungary, the Commission for Fundamental Rights issued a statement on IDAHOT. The Ombudsman underlined that one should learn from the tragic experiences of history, i.e. sexual identity and sexual orientation can never be the grounds for discrimination or stigmatisation.

Highlights of IDAHOT 2017