IDAHOBIT 2020 Splash 692

What's special about May 17?

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bi, 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 Organisation’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.

May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal. Thousands of initiatives, big and small, are reported throughout the planet.

Even if every year a “global focus issue” is promoted, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is not one centralised campaign; rather it is a moment that everyone can take advantage of to take action, on whatever issue and in whatever format that they wish.

Many different entities participate in the global mobilisation around May 17 and as a consequence, it receives many different denominations. Acronyms vary, from the initial IDAHO to IDAHOTB or IDAHOBIT.

"Societal attitudes against LGBT and intersex persons should not be used as justification to promote discriminatory laws and policies, to perpetuate discriminatory treatment"Nils Muiznieks (Commissioner for Human Rights Council of Europe)

Increasing knowledge on how we can best support our LGBTQ+ students and colleagues reduce discrimination, supports our diverse community and makes our environment more inclusive for all.

Negative attitudes, feelings or actions towards homosexual people and homosexuality which may be manifested in discrimination, hostile behaviour or hate crimes.

Homophobic language examples: Phrases like ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’.

The most common form of homophobic language is ‘that’s so gay’ and ‘you’re so gay’. 99% of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people report hearing the casual use of these phrases in school. These comments are sometimes directed towards people who are actually or perceived to be, lesbian or gay. However, they are most often used to mean that something is bad or ‘rubbish’, with no conscious link to sexual orientation at all, for example ‘those trainers are so gay’ (to mean uncool) or ‘stop being so gay’ (to mean stop being so annoying). Sometimes people don’t feel they have to challenge this use of ‘gay’, but not doing so can have a damaging effect on people, leading them to think being lesbian or gay is something negative.

Terms of abuse including ‘dyke’, ‘lezza’ and ‘faggot’. 96 per cent of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people hear this kind of homophobic language at school.

How to tackle Homophobia?

  • You can call out Homophobia when you see/hear it. Challenge the individual/s.
  • Use neutral labels like “partner” or “significant other” instead of “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” etc.
  • Bring up current LGBTQ+ issues in conversations with friends, at work, in class, and in your community.
  • Interrupt anti-LGBTQ+ jokes, comments or any other behaviours that make homophobia appear OK.
  • Don't make assumptions about peoples' sexual orientations or gender identities. Assume there are LGBTQ+ people in all classes, sports, meetings, at work, daily life, etc.

Stonewall have compiled a document HERE on how to tackle homophobic language. 

Credits to Stonewall and Mx. Anunnaki Ray Marquez

Negative attitudes, feelings or actions towards bisexuality and toward bi people as a social group or as individuals. It can take the form of denial that bisexuality is a genuine sexual orientation, or of negative stereotypes about people who are bi (such as the beliefs that they are promiscuous or dishonest). People of any sexual orientation can experience or perpetuate biphobia.

Biphobic language examples: Making fun of bisexual people for being ‘greedy’ or because they are attracted to people of the same gender and to people of a different gender.

Accusing someone of going through a ‘phase’, questioning why they ‘can’t make their mind up’ or saying ‘surely you’re just straight or gay’.

Saying ‘why can’t you just be normal’, either because being bisexual is not perceived to be ‘normal’ or because it’s not ‘normal’ to have same-sex relationships.

How to tackle Biphobia?

  • You can call out Biphobia when you see/hear it. Challenge the individual/s.
  • Never assume you know a person’s sexual orientation based on who they’re in a relationship with. For example, an apparently heterosexual couple might consist of two bisexuals, an apparently gay couple might be a bi guy with a gay guy. 
  • Use the definition of the word bisexual that bisexual organisations use — attracted to more than one gender, or attracted to two or more genders — and correct those who insist on using the antiquated binary definition — attracted to men and women — that some dictionaries still use.
  • Speak out against bi “jokes”
  • Use bisexual inclusive language…For example: Say “marriage equality” or “same-gender marriage” instead of “gay marriage.” “LGBT rights” instead of “gay rights.” “Pride parade” instead of “gay parade.”

Credits to Stonewall and Mx. Anunnaki Ray Marquez

Negative attitudes, feelings or actions towards people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of male and female. It isn’t a medical condition but is a term that stands for the spectrum of natural variations of sex characteristics that naturally occur within the human species. It’s not an abnormality or a defect, just a difference from the most common norms. Most intersex people are perfectly healthy, only a small number have medical conditions that require any kind of treatment.

There are many types of intersexuality, so no two intersex people are the same. The varying characteristics of intersex people can be chromosomal, hormonal and/or anatomical, and can be present to differing degrees: some are immediately detected at birth, some only become evident at later stages in life such as puberty or finding themselves infertile as an adult, and some people live their whole lives without ever knowing their intersex, and this being revealed during an autopsy.

Intersexphobic attitudes: Having problems with the word “intersex” because it has the word “sex” in it.

The belief/insistence that intersex bodies are a disorder, syndrome, birth defect, or a condition, even when told that intersex is about having natural bodily variations.

Many organisations are saying that Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH), Klinefelter Syndrome, Hypospadias, Turners Syndrome, and more are “birth defects,” “disorders” and “syndromes”; when they are actually intersex variations.

The belief/insistence of the medical community to continue their medicalised effort to eradicate intersex people from society by “normalising” intersex bodies into more typically male or female bodies in order to maintain sex and gender norms.

The belief/insistence that we are not lovable unless our bodies are hormonally or surgically fixed to conform to male and female sex and gender “norms”.  Which leads to violent discrimination, acted out through non-consensual genital surgeries on children.

How to tackle Intersexphobia?

  • You can call out Intersexphobia when you see/hear it. Challenge the individual/s.
  • Start conversations about intersex, remember that most Intersex individuals prioritise discussing how to combat human rights abuses rather than being used as examples to explore concepts in sex and gender theory.
  • Do not make the assumption that intersex is a medical condition. Many intersex individuals use the term “intersex variations,” which doesn’t inherently medicalise intersex bodies.

Credits to Stonewall, Mx. Anunnaki Ray Marquez, Gendered Intelligence and Galop

Negative attitudes, feelings or actions towards transgender or transsexual people, or toward transsexuality. Transphobia can include fear, aversion, hatred, violence, anger, or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who do not conform to society's gender expectation.

Transphobic language examples: Terms of abuse, including ' tranny', 'he-she', referring to a trans person as 'it' or deliberately misnaming or misgendering them (using the wrong
pronoun when referring to them in conversation).

Taunting or inappropriate questions or comments about a trans person's gender or gender identity, for example, 'are you a girl or a boy?' or 'you're not a 'real' girl'.

Questions or comments about a trans person's body, for example, asking them what their body looks like.

How to tackle Transphobia?

  • You can call out Transphobia when you see/hear it. Challenge the individual/s.
  • Use correct pronouns and titles
  • Recognise trans intersectionality
  • Maintain confidentiality

Credits to Stonewall, Mx. Anunnaki Ray Marquez, Gendered Intelligence and Galop

Speak Out

If you experience or witness Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia or Transphobia you can report this anonymously, informally or formally through the Speak Out pages.

You can seek support from our Dignity and Respect advisors found here: Dignity and Respect

In addition/alternatively, you can contact the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, the LGBTQ+ Student Society (Devon) or the SU Pride Society (Cornwall).


More Information

You can access the official IDAHOBIT webpages HERE


Our Communities

For more about our LGBTQ+ staff community, you can access the LGBTQ+ Staff Network.

For more about our LGBTQ+ student community, you can access and the Student LGBTQ+ Society (Devon) or the SU Pride Society (Cornwall).