Celebrating IDAHOBIT

May 17, 2021 – Today, we celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), and we welcome President Biden’s statement commemorating the day. This marks the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Thirty-one years later, far too many countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, and even more allow deeply harmful medical and psychological interventions, often called “conversion therapies,” that are based on the false belief that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can and indeed should be changed. 

The UN independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity has called for a global ban on so-called conversion therapies. He also has called for the end of criminalization of same-sex relationships by 2030.  Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. At least 68 countries, or almost 40 percent of the world, still criminalize same-sex relations and relationships. Many also criminalize cross-dressing and gender-affirming treatments for transgender individuals. Very few prohibit conversion therapies or medically unnecessary surgeries that mutilate intersex children.

We applaud President Biden’s Presidential Memorandum that prioritizes the advancement of human rights of LGBTQI persons. The President has called on our diplomats to begin building coalition of like-minded governments to advance these efforts, recognizing that “[b]ilateral relationships with allies and partners, as well as multilateral fora and international organizations, are key vehicles to promote respect for and protection of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons and to bring global attention to these goals.” (Read our analysis here.)

And to mark IDAHOBIT today, Secretary of State Blinken issued a statement and the White House issued a fact sheet prioritizing U.S. efforts aimed at: decriminalization, the protection of vulnerable LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers, funding for human rights and swift and meaningful responses to human rights abuses, and building – and in some cases rejoining – international coalitions to fight discrimination. We applaud those efforts and call on Congress to fund these global LGBTQI commitments.

The IDAHOBIT theme this year is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” Given the extreme impact of COVID on the LGBTQI community globally, this theme should be a wake-up call to action and investment to ensure, in Secretary Blinken’s words, “we will achieve our goal of a rights-respecting, inclusive society where no one lives in fear because of who they are or whom they love.”

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