Sunday 17th May marked International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, more commonly known around the globe as IDAHOT.
IDAHOT events have been happening since 2004 and each year, more and more countries are starting to get involved by holding their own events and campaigns to highlight inequality and discrimination faced by LGBT people. It’s hard to believe that there are still at least 80 countries in the world that criminalize same sex relationships, where beatings and murder are an everyday threat for LGBT people, and where governments use their power to discriminate and alienate LGBT people from their societies.
LGB rights are slowly starting to progress but for Trans people there is still a long way to go. The reason IDAHOT falls on the 17th May is to remember how Homosexuality was finally removed from the World Health Organisation’s list of mental disorders in 1990, but unfortunately trans people are still on that list. We are living in an age where there are still countries that offer no legal recognition or medical support for trans people, or if there is medical support 21 countries have made sterilisation compulsory. There are still countries, including the UK, where unemployment, family rejection and homelessness are issues that are far too commonplace, and countries where countless brutal attacks and murders are happening, over proportionally to trans women of colour, which in many cases are swept under the carpet by the Police and Government.
“My hopes for next year are that local IDAHOT events can be spread out into the city, to places where LGBT issues are never, or rarely, discussed and to places where new LGBT allies can be formed.”
Thankfully, LGBT people in the UK have a number of rights and are protected by law. We are fortunate enough to have the freedom and choice to hold IDAHOT events up and down the country which help to bring LGBT communities together to highlight discrimination and injustices across the world, and to show our support to all those living in countries where events like these would be unimaginable under current circumstances.
On Sunday, Liverpool John Moores University hosted a very well attended IDAHOT event alongside Unison and the Liverpool Mental Health Consortium. The day began with singing from the Liverpool LGBT choir, a variety of stalls promoting LGBT projects and services including the Armistead, Diversity Role Models, the UK’s first LGBT specific CAB service OUTreach, Mersey Care NHS Trust, and Pride at the Pictures. There were a number of guest speakers including Mimi Gashi from Sahir House who spoke about the issues faced by LGBT refugees, many of which have left countries where threats of ostracism, violence, and death are very real. Liam Mason from YPAS (Young Person’s Advisory Service) spoke about the trans youth group THE Action Youth and how it has become a safe haven for young trans people who may not have supportive environment at home.
Myself and Sophie Green also had the opportunity to speak about the progression of Liverpool Trans and how important it is to raise awareness of issues faced by trans people and for the trans community to be visible. We were able to highlight events that have occurred throughout the year such as Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR (20th November), which remembers the hundreds of trans people murdered because of their gender identity (or perceived identity) across the world, Transgender Day of Visibility (31st March) which celebrates trans lives and highlights discrimination of trans people, and the first trans area at Liverpool Pride last year – The Genderbread House, which was a big success. There was also a visit for the Lord Mayor, Erica Kemp, who invited members of the trans community to the Town Hall last November to raise the trans flag for the first time in recognition of TDOR and lost trans lives.
Overall, Liverpool IDAHOT was very successful in bringing the local LGBT community and our allies together. It was a great opportunity for sharing information about various local LGBT groups and achievements, and for finding out about some of the hurdles we still have to face in the fight for LGBT rights and equality. My hopes for next year are that local IDAHOT events can be spread out into the city, to places where LGBT issues are never, or rarely, discussed and to places where new LGBT allies can be formed. Without allies, the fight for LGBT equality can not effectively progress. We need our allies to speak out about discrimination, to support us when we come out, to educate others and to raise awareness of LGBT injustice around the world.
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