By John Glenton, Executive Director of Care and Support and Spectrum Co-chair
Today is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversities.
This year’s theme is families, especially the family’s role in looking after any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members’ wellbeing. After all, every member of the LGBT community is a member of someone’s family.
Having your family accept you for who you are is so important, and although our society has moved forward on this, it’s not the same for all communities.
This year IDAHOT will also focus on LGBT families. It’s becoming increasingly common for families to be of a diverse make-up, including same sex parents who adopt, use a surrogate or IVF and families where one parent has transitioned.
It’s important to strengthen the visibility and the voice of children from rainbow families, who can sometimes experience bullying, harassment and discrimination because of who their parents are.
You might ask if there is there really a need for an international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Surely equal rights have come so far with gay marriage and the equality law?
Sadly there is still much to be done here.
It’s shocking to note that the number of homophobic attacks more than doubled in the three months after the Brexit vote, suggesting the toxicity fostered by the EU referendum debate spread beyond race and religion.
Hate crimes against LGBT people increased 147% during July, August and September compared to the same period last year, according to the LGBT anti-violence charity Galop.
While LGBT rights have made considerable progress in some parts of the world, a surprising number of countries still punish same-sex relationships with life imprisonment or even death.
New research from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) serves as a stark reminder of just how widespread such criminalisation can be.
In 74 countries, same-sex sexual contact is a criminal offence. In 13 countries, being gay or bisexual is punishable by death. These are Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, parts of Nigeria, parts of Somalia, parts of Syria and parts of Iraq.
In 17 countries, bans are in place to prohibit ‘propaganda’ interpreted as promoting LGBT communities or identities. These are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lithuania and Russia.
And 40 countries retain a ‘gay panic’ clause offering people a defence for committing crimes such as assault or murder if they were provoked because the person was gay, lesbian or bisexual.
While the report focused on gay, lesbian and bisexual rights, it is believed transphobic laws and attitudes are also common as part of persecution specifically targeted at transgender communities.
So it is clear that there is still a need for an international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia.
Riverside, through its LGBT staff group Spectrum, continues to support its staff, whatever their sexual orientation.
Executive Directors recently approved our Transitioning at Work policy and procedure. The policy was produced to support managers and employees who are considering, proposing to or currently undergoing gender reassignment.
Policies like this underline our commitment to equality and diversity, ensuring Riverside is a place where employees can truly be themselves.