Celebrated internationally each year on 17th May, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia highlights the discrimination experienced by people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and by all people with diverse orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.
Here, you can read all you need to know about the event, including what the event is, why the event is important, what this year’s theme is, and some suggestions of how to celebrate.
Of course, we’ll also sprinkle in some useful website links and content-rich resources to complement our writing on this inspirational event.
What Is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia?
The annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is commonly referred to by the acronyms IDAHOTB and IDAHOBIT. It is also referred to just as May 17. May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including some where same-sex acts are illegal.
- Homophobia is an umbrella term for prejudice and discrimination against people who identify as or are perceived to be LGBTQ+. It also more specifically refers to prejudice and discrimination against those who identify as or are percieved to be gay.
- Transphobia is prejudice and discrimination against people who identify as or are perceived to be transgender.
- Biphobia is prejudice and discrimination against people who identify as or are perceived to be bisexual.
Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are typically based on irrational hatred, intolerance and fear. Encourage students to explore the key terms related to this event with this exciting Card Sort Activity.
How Did May 17 Start?
The original International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) was created in 2004, with the first commemorative May 17 event taking place in 2005. In 2009, transphobia was added to the name and acronym. Biphobia was then added in 2015.
Until 1990, homosexuality was still included on the classification of diseases and related health problems. However, on 17th May 1990, the World Health Organisation (WHO) made the decision to remove it from the classification. To commemorate this day, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is now celebrated every year on ‘May 17’.
What Is This Year’s Theme?
The 2022 theme for May 17 is Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights. This theme relates to our right to express our gender(s) and sexualities freely, without discrimination. The theme also highlights violence against LGBTQ+ people around the world, as well as practices that are harmful to LGBTQ+ people, such as conversion ‘therapies’ and forced sterilisation.
Why Is It Important?
Currently, there are around 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is criminalised, and in around 10 of these countries, the death penalty is present for private, consensual same-sex sexual activity. It is estimated that 70% of the world’s population live under laws and regulations that limit freedom of expression around sexual orientation and gender identity.
May 17 provides an opportunity to take action and bring the topic of LGBTQ+ rights to the attention of the global media, policymakers and the public, enabling awareness and activism that could bring about real changes in terms of LGBTQ+ rights globally.
To get students thinking and talking about the challenges LGBTQ+ people may face, why not use our Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia Scenario Cards?
How Can I Celebrate May 17?
When it comes to ways you can celebrate May 17, the sky’s the limit! Below are some ideas to get you started.
- You can put up posters around your classroom, such as our Challenging Homophobia Display Poster.
- You could host rainbow-themed fundraising events, such as a rainbow bake sale or LGBTQ+ themed trivia event.
- In the classroom, you can hold meaningful discussions about May 17 and LGBTQ+ rights. Some great in-classroom resources for this are our Understanding Gender and Sexuality Lesson Pack for an introduction to the topic of gender and sexuality, or our LGBTQ Prejudice and Discrimination Lesson Pack for a more in-depth examination of the challenges that LGBTQ+ people may face.
- To show solidarity and support, you could dress up in rainbow colours or host a rainbow-themed picnic.
- You could also run an assembly or tutor session about IDAHOTB using our informative PowerPoint, What Is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia?
Looking for more lesson material for May 17th? Head over to our main website here and don’t forget to read even more of our blogs here! You can also subscribe to Beyond for access to thousands of secondary teaching resources. You can sign up for a free account here and take a look around at our free resources before you subscribe too.