May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, Photo: Canva
May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). Celebrated every year, the day aims to raise awareness of violations against the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Recent data shows that the issue of violence against the queer community is growing in Canada.
Statistics Canada says 423 hate crimes targeting someone based on their sexual orientation were reported to police in 2021. This set a new record after surpassing the previous high of 265 reported in 2019.
While exact data was not provided, a different Statistics Canada report shows that transgender people are significantly more likely to be on the receiving end of unwanted behaviour in public and at work. Additionally, they are also more likely to be the victims of discrimination and violence.
A protest is being held in downtown Toronto tonight to honour the occasion. From 6 to 8 p.m., at The 519 community centre, people will gather in solidarity to celebrate IDAHOBIT
“Anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate is dangerously trending upwards globally and Canada is not immune. Hateful protestors are showing up at drag performances. School boards are navigating heated disputes around raising the Pride flag and the censorship of 2SLGBTQ+ material in books. Gender-affirming healthcare is being impacted by transphobic bills. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. The situation is urgent, and the time for action is now,” a statement from The 519 reads.
Dubbed “Prance and Protest,” tonight’s rally has been described as “an act of radical queer joy” which will celebrate the power of community uniting against hate and violence, while calling for allyship.
The rally will also feature local queer and drag performances from Prince Manny Dingo, Kenya Rami, Queer of Sheba and more. MPP for Toronto Centre Kristyn Wong-Tam and City Councillor Chris Moise will also be in attendance.
According to the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces, an estimated one million people in Canada are gay, lesbian, bisexual or identify as a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. The survey also found an additional 75,000 people in Canada 15 or older are transgender.
Officials Show Support on IDAHOBIT
In Canada, the federal government has recognized the importance of advocating against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
“In recent years, we have taken significant action to make Canada a safer place for people from the 2SLGBTQI+ community. We updated laws to protect gender identity and gender expression, I apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada in the House of Commons for the systemic oppression, rejection, and criminalization of 2SLGBTQI+ people, and we criminalized conversion therapy, to name a few,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Wednesday.
“But people from the 2SLGBTQI+ community, particularly transgender people, are still facing a crisis of targeted violence in Canada and across the globe,” the statement continued, adding that in recognition of work that still needs to be done the government recently launched the first-ever federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan – a government-wide approach to strengthen rights and promote equality.
“Canada continues to actively promote 2SLGBTQI+ human rights on the world stage, and address the ongoing, widespread criminalization, discrimination, and violence faced by these communities. Through our international assistance, Canada is investing to advance human rights and improve socio-economic outcomes for 2SLGBTQI+ communities in developing countries.”
While on a global scale, the United Nations is also speaking out against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.
“As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, we face a stark fact. In every corner of the world, LGBTQI+ people continue to face violence, persecution, hate speech, injustice, and even outright murder,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
According to the UN, 64 countries worldwide criminalize private and consensual same-sex relationships.