Freyja Douglas-McTurk, Disability Advisor and LGBT+ role model at the University, reflects on the relevance of IDAHoBiT both locally and globally, and shares a personal message during these challenging times.
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHoBiT) will go ahead, internationally, on 17th May 2020. IDAHoBiT has taken place annually since 2004. The date of May 17th was chosen to commemorate the day on which ‘homosexuality’ was declassified by the World Health Organisation as a mental health disorder.
Whilst we remain relatively fortunate in the UK, it’s important to bear in mind that internationally, LGBT+ rights are employed variously and in some cases not at all.
73 jurisdictions across the world still criminalise diverse sexualities and gender identities in some and 12 jurisdictions impose the death penalty for private, consensual same sex interactions.
At Leeds, we are privileged to be able to offer our international colleagues and students a safe and welcoming environment, not just personally and professionally but against a setting of almost total social and legislative back up. (There are of course significant exceptions to this, and it is not my intention to trivialise or understate those). We should not underestimate the positive impact of this for those people who live in fear of expressing their identities and of living full and fulfilled lives.
At Leeds University we have the opportunity to support and foster a safe and caring environment for all our LGBT+ colleagues and students and for IDAHoBiT 2020 I ask that we give thought to how we might continue this whilst we are living and working apart.
I truly understand that we are all under exceptional pressure, stress and for some of us distress, at the moment and it is my sincerest wish that this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.
I would ask though that on May 17th that we all, friends, colleagues, allies and those of us in the LGBT+ community take a moment to give thought and consideration to those of us who may be disproportionately impacted by the current public health crisis (lgbt.foundation Health Inequalities Short Briefing, PDF).
We may have friends, colleagues and students who are not able to travel to the safety of home. We may know people now living in environments where they are unsafe to express themselves, or people who are kept apart from their partners and loved ones. Of course, this crisis may offer for some a unique opportunity to live in a way they have not been able to previously and this is something to be celebrated.
If it is appropriate, safe and within the remit of our roles, perhaps we might want to reach out to those people, both on 17th May and indeed on any other day.
Thank you friends, colleagues and allies.
View Freyja's lgbt+ role model page