Now in its 14th year, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) is a moment to celebrate sexual and gender diversity, reflect on the ongoing pursuit of social justice by LGBT communities and their allies around the world, and recall the progress made.
There are undoubtedly challenges to rights for gay, bisexual and transgender people that continue – human rights inequities that persist all over the world. It would be remiss not to reflect on events that made headlines in numerous countries in the last year including Tanzania, Russia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Egypt and Turkey to name a few.
Slowly, too slowly at times, things are improving in some parts of the world however. The past 12 months have seen the diligent work and commitment of activists, communities and allies achieve extraordinary things.
To mark IDAHOTB 2018, we reflect on some of the heartening gains made in the last year. These span social, legal and political arenas, and have the potential to impact individuals and communities in a specific country and foster hope in others across the world.
Whilst much work remains, progress in transgender rights and same-sex marriage has been seen in Europe. In April 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that making recognition of gender identity conditional on sterilisation violates human rights. Later in the year, legislation was passed in countries such as Greece that allowed individuals to determine their gender identity without undergoing medical testing or sterilisation.
“[This was] a hard-won victory for transgender rights activists in Greece who have fought for equality… for years. Whilst this reform is a historic step in the right direction, the struggle is not fully won.” Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International
Meanwhile, marriage equality moved closer to reality for same-sex couples in Finland, Germany, Malta and Austria.
In October, colourful congregations marched under rainbow flags and banners through central Taipei in Asia’s largest gay pride event, following Taiwan’s ruling in favour of gay marriage. In November, a volunteer-led bid saw Hong Kong win the opportunity to host the 2022 Gay Games – the first time the Games will be held in Asia.
2017 ended very positively in Australia: following a public survey between September and November, marriage equality laws were passed in the country’s parliament in a landslide vote.
In Africa, Mozambique took the decision to formally recognise LGBT organisations whilst in a landmark case in Botswana that sets an important precedent, a transgender man won a lengthy battle for legal gender recognition.
Central America & The Caribbean
There is also renewed hope in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean region. In April 2018, a court ruled that sections of the Sexual Offences Act were unconstitutional, opening the door to decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country. The case follows a landmark decision in Belize in 2016.
“With positive rulings in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the movement will carry momentum to other parts of the region.” Kenita Placide, OutRight Action International
Looking to next year, there is much cause for optimism. For example, the outcomes of cases reviewing anti-homosexuality laws are expected soon from India’s Supreme Court and Kenya’s High Court.
Each of these changes is a threshold moment rather than the conclusion of a campaign. Some have been fraught with risk for LGBT people and the work of activists and allies is by no means over. Common between these changes however is the potential to improve the lived realities of the LGBT community and to inspire hope in others.
We are proud to recognise #IDAHOT2018 and celebrate with our colleagues and community partners across the world. To learn more about our commitment to support men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people through Positive Action, please visit our Positive Action for MSM & Transgender People page.