LGBTQI+ networks, individuals and allies from around the world took part in the 2021 International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia again this year on Monday, 17 May. The theme for this year’s events was, “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!” and we are thrilled to report an astounding level of support and participation witnessed this year.
We salute the work, courage and efforts of activists around the world. Standing on the front lines, often putting their lives in danger, the bravery and commitment of so many is what made this year’s impressive global visibility and support possible. We also honor the work of the many who came before us as we stand on their shoulders and benefit from the progress made possible by their fearlessness, determination and sacrifice.
As a result of that work, the response to and participation in May 17th, 2021 was overwhelmingly vast. With messages, photos and videos coming out of over 90 countries, scores of people went online or participated in activities in support of the day and voiced their opposition to LGBTQI+ discrimination. Actions were registered in places as diverse as the United States, Ukraine, Botswana, Peru and Cambodia, from entities as big as the European Union and the United Nations and from thousands upon thousands of individuals worldwide, confirming, once again this year, that the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia belongs to everyone, everywhere.
Political support for the day from progressive governments and officials was especially prominent this year. Several heads of State, including US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron (among many others) made statements of support. Countless elected officials, including Australian Senator Penny Wong and Indian Parliamentarian Supriya Sule also posted support along with local politicians including the Mayors of London, Paris, Toronto, Puerto Vallarta and many other cities.
The internet was awash with photos of official buildings displaying rainbow colored lights and flags. Building exteriors decorated the landscape around the world in participation, including multiple European Union buildings, a record number of Embassies worldwide and many individual countries’ federal buildings from Hong Kong to Serbia to Belgium to Chile.
The day saw a significant uptick in high profile support from celebrities both LGBTQI+ and heterosexual, with significant posts from Viola Davis, Florencia De La V, Sara Ramirez, cast members from GLEE, Queer as Folk and 30 Rock as well as expressions of solidarity from Madonna, Paulina Rubio and many more.
Another significant change for the better this year was the very active participation of previously traditionally heternormative, cis-male dominated sports organizations including a number of posts by the National Hockey League (re-posted by multiple team accounts) and the rainbow coloring of the field lines and multiple photos and videos of support posted by football and rugby teams and associations.
We also saw a large uptick in service and public organizations without a specific pro-LGBTQI+ mission, including schools, police stations, fire fighters, airport and hospitals all expressing their support in posts, photos, videos and decorations.
2021 also brought about renewed corporate supporters. Apple, in additional to multiple internal events, released its yearly Pride watch on May 17th with a statement in support of both an end to LGBTQI+ discrimination and a renewed commitment to anti-racism. IKEA stores worldwide flew queer and trans supportive flags and introduced gender inclusive signage. Avon, The Body Shop, AirFrance, Ernst and Young and many other commercial entities released images, statements and videos in support of the day.
While these accomplishments and this beautiful increase in global visibility is to be celebrated, we must also remember the reason for the day, and that the fight to end these phobias and prejudices is far from over. This past year saw an increase in anti-LBGTQI+ legislation and police action around the world, including in several U.S. States, Poland, Ghana, Uganda and more and continued rhetoric, actions and policies of hate in several other nations including Kenya, Russia, Belarus and Malaysia as well as the “honor” killing, just days ago, of a young queer man in Iran. Being LGBTQI+ is still considered a criminal act in at least 69 nations and the rights of LGBTQI+ persons are far from equal to those of our hetero and cis coutnerparts in many, many others.
We are overjoyed to have witnessed and participated in the astounding, global, love-filled wave of mobilization on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. We also long for a time when the need for the Day does not exist. We are far from arrived at that goal, so we continue on in the fight for freedom and dignity for all persons still victimized by discrimination and hate.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. The Day represents a major global annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, corporations, opinion leaders, local authorities, etc. to the alarming situation faced by people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia initiative is collectively managed in collaboration between regional and thematic networks working to advance the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. This collaboration brings together organizations and initiatives at global, regional, national and local levels. www.may17.org / www.twitter.com/may17org