In at least 76 countries around the world today, same-sex relationships are illegal, at times involving lifetime imprisonment. In 10 countries the death penalty is possible for same-sex acts.
In almost all countries, freedom for people to live out and to express their true gender identities – and to have them rightfully recognized by the state – is harshly limited by transphobic laws and attitudes.
But even in progressive countries, violence and discrimination against LGBT people still exist in the form of discriminatory laws, unjust representations in the media, unfair treatment by employers, negative social attitudes, and even in everyday interactions with people we care about, and who care about us.Homophobia and transphobia target all people who don’t conform to majority sexual and gender roles, and they affect the lives of everyone – to express themselves and their opinions freely, and to have the rights of their, friends, family members, and loved one’s recognized.The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the media, and the public in general to these issues, and to promote a world of tolerance, respect, and freedom regardless of people’s sexual orientations or gender identities.As much as May 17 is a day against violence and oppression, it is also a day to promote freedom, diversity, and acceptance.
The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision taken by the World Health organization in 1990 to take homosexuality out of the list of mental disorders.
The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is now commemorated in approximately 120 countries around the world!
The situation remains overall very bad……
- Same sex relationships are still illegal in 72 countries. Source ILGA
- These 72 countries represent 37% of UN member states.
- In relation to death penalty Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen actually implement it. In addition, the death penalty is implemented provincially in 12 northern states in Nigeria and the southern parts of Somalia. In Mauretania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE and Qatar it is on the statute, but is not known to be implemented. In ISIS/ISIL/Dash control areas of Iraq and Syria the death sentence for same-sex sexual behaviours is implemented by local non-State actors. Source ILGA
- In 2013, 5 billion people that is 70% of the world population live under laws and regulations that limit freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity. This does NOT include the 8 US states which still have laws on the books that ban schools from teaching anything positive about homosexuality (Source: GLSEN.org). Only 0.06% of the world population lives in countries formally protecting people from homophobic hate speech. Source IDAHO Committee
- 33 African countries have explicit criminal laws against same-sex sexual relations between men. In 24 of them, these laws also apply to women. Source ILGA
- 23 out of 46 Asian countries criminalise same-sex behavior. Source ILGA
- 2,343 reported killings of trans* and gender-diverse were documented by Trans Murder Monitoring in 69 countries worldwide between the 1st of January 2008 and the 31st of December 2016, 1,834 of which were reported in Central and South America. Further analysis of this data shows that 64% of all murdered trans and gender-diverse people whose profession was known were sex workers. Source Trans Murder Monitoring Project
- In Europe 41 countries recognise a trans person’s gender identity, with only 4 countries which have such provisions basing their procedures on self-determination. 23 European Countries require a proof of sterilization in gender identity recognition. Source Transgender Europe
But the understanding and acceptance of sexual and gender diversity is growing….
- The World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disease in its 1990 International Classification of Diseases Manual
- 87% of World countries are moving towards stronger social approval of homosexual behavior. Source:International Social Survey Program, 2011 in Smith, Tom W. 2011. Attitudes towards Same-Gender, Sexual Behavior across Time and across Countries. Chicago, IL: NORC.
- A global survey showed that Kenya was the only surveyed country where acceptance of homosexuality was lower in young people than in their elders. Source International Social Survey Program 2008 in Public Attitudes towards Homosexuality and Gay Rights- Introduction across Time and Countries – Tom W. Smith,∗ Jaesok Son,† and Jibum Kim‡ November 2014
- Marriage is open for same-sex couples in 21 countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, the United Kingdom (Excluding N. Ireland), Luxembourg, the United States, Ireland and Colombia with Finland joining in 2017. In addition, same-sex marriage is recognized and performed in 10 states of Mexico. Source Wikipedia.
- 22 additional countries recognize civil unions of people of the same sex. Source Wikipedia.
- Homosexual behavior has been observed in 1,500 animal species and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life. Source: University of California – Riverside. “Same-sex Behavior Seen In Nearly All Animals, Review Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2009
- Access joint UN OHCHR/IDAHO Committee 2013 infographic on “Debunking the myth of homosexuality as a Western import”
More information on the history & significance of May 17 here.
Figures on the legal worldwide situation for LGB people: ILGA
Figures on global violence against Trans people: Trans Murder Monitoring Project
Figures on the legal and social situation of Trans people in Europe: Transgender Europe
The IDAHO Committee
The IDAHO Committee was established by the founders of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in 2005. Its mission is to inspire, support, and promote the global mobilizations around May 17.
With contacts in LGBTI and human rights movements in over 120 countries worldwide, and with the privilege of a global panorama of actions planned worldwide for May 17, we are available to support journalists in reaching out to specific contacts and to provide up-to-date and detailed information on actions for the Day.
Follow the the Day online