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IPPF fights to end homophobia and transphobia

IPPF fights to end homophobia and transphobia

Maurice Tomlinson, 2012 winner of David Kato Vision and Voice Award

17 May is the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. IPPF is proud to celebrate the expansion of rights for millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people around the world, while not forgetting the millions more that are still struggling for their basic human rights to be respected.

See the powerful film by our Member Association, HERA in Macedonia

This past year has seen positive progress relating to the rights of LGBTI people around the world. More countries are adopting equal marriage, allowing joint adoption by same-sex couples and increasing legal gender recognition of trans people. There has also been protective legislation introduced which prohibits violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

On this date in 1990, the World Health Organization’s declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Similar changes are taking place in relation to gender identity. This month, the American Psychiatric Association will replace the term ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ with ‘Gender Dysphoria’. This is a more neutral diagnosis of emotional distress over one’s gender, instead of implying that there is something wrong with those who do not conform to or identify with their assigned gender.

Despite the increasing acceptance of sexual diversity, homophobia and transphobia has a profound impact on sexual and reproductive health for millions. It is especially true in the 78 countries where same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults are criminalized.

Social exclusion, prejudice, and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity is justified by social norms. This not only targets LGBTI people but anyone perceived to be outside of the norms that constitute what are ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ behaviours.

Decriminalization is only the first step towards equality. The development of legal bans on ‘homosexual propaganda’ is worrying, as they pose serious threats to the freedom of expression of LGBTI activists, and affect the work of allied organizations working to defend human rights.

Working in 66 of the countries that criminalize same-sex sexual acts, IPPF is committed to addressing homophobia and transphobia to ensure the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people. In April, IPPF launched Vision 2020 – a world-wide call for serious global action to recognize sexual rights and reproductive rights as human rights by 2020. This includes pressuring governments to repeal laws, policies and practices that have the effect of increasing stigma and discrimination against women, men and young people on the grounds of sex, sexuality, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This commitment was further highlighted at IPPF’s 60th anniversary celebrations in South Africa at the Pan African Parliament, where the 2013 David Kato Vision & Voice Award was awarded to Ali Erol, a leading LGBTI activist from Turkey.

Across all regions, there are numerous examples from IPPF Member Associations implementing specific activities to address these issues such as strengthening partnerships with local LGBTI organizations, creating safe environments for LGBTI people to meet, providing access to high-quality sexual and reproductive health services, addressing the harmful effects of gender stereotypes, and advocating for access to comprehensive sexuality education with a positive view on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

While today, IPPF is pleased to welcome the expansion of rights of some LGBTI people, we will not be celebrating until everyone is free.