International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia - SACAP
Applied Psychology

Celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOTB) 2024

May 17, 2024 | By Bev Moss-Reilly
Celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOTB) 2024 

Explore the significance of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOTB) – May 17, 2024. Learn about breaking the stigma surrounding homosexuality as a mental health disorder and foster inclusivity. Become acquainted with the terminology, embracing acceptance.  

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOTB) is observed annually on May 17th to raise awareness about the discrimination and prejudice faced by the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide. This day serves as a reminder to advocate for the rights and acceptance of individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.  

Breaking the Stigma of “Homosexuality” as a Mental Health Disorder

Throughout history, sexual and gender diversity has often been pathologized, and framed as a mental health disorder. The movement to remove “homosexuality” from this classification began in the United States during the 1960s. In a pivotal moment in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed “homosexuality” from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), recognizing that sexual orientation is not a sign of mental illness. This decision marked a crucial milestone in the ongoing battle against discrimination based on sexual orientation. 

In South Africa, the gay rights movement operated largely underground prior to the country’s transition to democracy in 1994. The struggle against apartheid shed light on homophobia, leading to greater acceptance of gay rights. Figures like Simon Nkoli, a gay rights activist, collaborated with anti-apartheid activists, fostering an understanding that homophobia is a form of prejudice and injustice akin to apartheid discrimination. This collaboration ultimately influenced the inclusion of protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in South Africa’s democratic constitution, aligning with the African National Congress (ANC) government’s commitment to never again tolerate discrimination against any marginalized group. 

However, despite legislative changes, social attitudes have been slower to evolve. Homophobia remains prevalent, highlighting the ongoing need for societal transformation and education. This remains a work in progress.

Challenging Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia

Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia perpetuate discrimination, prejudice, and violence against LGBTQIA+ individuals. These forms of bigotry manifest on personal, institutional, and societal levels, hindering the well-being and rights of marginalised communities.  

It’s crucial to confront and dismantle these prejudices through education, advocacy, and allyship. An ally, as defined in the LGBTQIA+ glossary, actively challenges heterosexism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. By fostering understanding and empathy, allies play a vital role in creating inclusive environments where everyone can thrive without fear of discrimination.  

Embracing Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity enriches our communities and enhances our collective experience. Embracing differences in sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression fosters a culture of inclusivity and acceptance. Everyone deserves to live authentically without fear of judgment or discrimination.  

Zanele Muholi, a South African activist and artist, predominantly engages in photography and video as mediums of expression. While renowned for her artistic prowess, Muholi prioritises her identity as an activist. Her primary goal is to leverage her art as a platform to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of black LGBTQIA+ women, a demographic she perceives as egregiously marginalised in artistic representation. Rather than relying on external validation, Muholi has assumed the responsibility of illuminating these women’s challenges, aspirations, and beauty through her work. 

Are You an Ally?

Do you see yourself as an ally? Are you an open-minded person who embraces differences and advocates for equality? Take a stand against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. Educate yourself, support LGBTQIA+ individuals, and actively challenge discriminatory behaviour.   

As an advocate, you wield significant influence in eradicating stigmas and spreading accurate information. Our world requires agents of change to foster a more inclusive environment, ensuring everyone has the right to belong in a diverse society. No group holds superiority over another. We must uphold our human rights mandates by recognising and accepting each individual as an equal, irrespective of our distinctions. 

We inhabit a world brimming with blended races, cultures, subcultures, and sexual orientations. By enriching our knowledge, we can only truly grasp the spectrum of differences and similarities.  

Celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOTB) 2024  

The LGBTQIA+ community will celebrate their sexuality through various means, including participation in events like gay pride parades, wearing rainbow-coloured clothing or accessories, and displaying pride flags. These expressions of pride and visibility serve multiple purposes.  

  • Firstly, they are a declaration of self-acceptance and affirmation. In societies where LGBTQIA+ individuals face discrimination, stigma, and marginalisation, openly celebrating one’s sexuality is a powerful act of defiance against societal norms that seek to suppress or deny their identities.  
  • Secondly, these celebrations are a form of community-building and solidarity. By joining pride events, LGBTQIA+ individuals find support networks, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. It’s a way to connect with others with similar experiences and challenges.  
  • Thirdly, these displays of pride are indeed acts of activism. By being visible and vocal about their identities, LGBTQIA+ individuals challenge societal prejudices and demand recognition, acceptance, and equal rights. Visibility is a crucial aspect of activism, as it brings attention to issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community and fosters understanding and empathy among the  general public.  

Moreover, these acts of celebration and visibility serve as a beacon of hope for those who feel unable to express their sexuality due to fear of rejection or harm from family, friends, or workplaces. By seeing others proudly embrace their gender identities, they may feel empowered to do the same or find support in knowing they are not alone.  

In summary, expressions of gay pride, including the use of rainbow colours and participation in pride events, are not only celebrations of sexual identity but also acts of resistance, community-building, and activism aimed at fostering acceptance, equality, and visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community.  

SACAP’s Courses in Counselling and Psychology

If you’re passionate about promoting mental health and supporting marginalised communities, consider pursuing a career in counselling and psychology. SACAP offers courses that empower individuals to make a positive impact in the lives of others.  Acquire an understanding of how to effectively address the needs of various patients in your professional setting. Learn more about the available courses here.

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