May 17th marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and is the world's single most important day in the LGBTI calendar. Created in 2004 to get the attention of policy makers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the alarming violence and discrimination experienced by Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex people and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms internationally.
Celebrated in over 130 countries, where in 37 of those countries, same-sex acts are still illegal. Over a thousand organisations around the world bringing together millions of people in support of the recognition of human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
While there isn’t one singular campaign that takes place on this day, it is a moment that everyone can use to take collective action. The date commemorated the date that the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.
The theme for 2018 is “Alliances for Solidarity” as no battle can be won alone. People around the world need to strengthen relationships and alliances, especially when there is much work to be done to ensure safety, fight violence, lobby for legal change, and campaign to change hearts and minds.
While the theme is about alliances, it also is a solid reminder of the need for those within the LGBTI community to further stand in solidarity with other members of the community. The rights of one specific group cannot be secure if the rights of other groups are unchallenged. It also highlights the necessity for sexual and gender minorities to be allies to other vulnerable groups, such as migrants, people living in poverty and children.
To find out more head to the IDAHOTB website https://dayagainsthomophobia.org/
What have we done?
The Union Executive Committee recently passed policy supporting Trans and Non-binary students which can be available on the website under ‘policies’ soon. The Executive Committee also updated the Union Code of Conduct to include:
“Sexual violence and hate incidents will not be tolerated and there shall be no harassment on any grounds within any functions of UCASU. This includes raceism, sexism, ableism, LGBTQ+phobia, islamphobia, anti-semitism and xenophobia.”
LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Training is being delivered to all Union staff, as well as to all future elected officers, full time and part time. Club & society committees will also be expected to attend a training session hosted by the union.
What can we do together?
This year we are focusing on what more we can do to support Trans students. An annual report by ILGA-Europe called the Rainbow Europe Index, which assesses countries on their progress in pursuing specific legal reforms to secure equality for LGBTI people. Historically the UK has been at the forefront of change but has dropped to fourth following a stall in a progressive gender recognition act after months of anti-trans media and the alarming surge in anti-trans rhetoric, alongside the lack of equal marriage in Northern Ireland.
Right now we need to support reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. A guide produced by Facts About Trans highlights the basics. Why does it need reform? Because the current process;
- Does not comply with UN Human Rights Commission guidance
- Is overly complicated and beureatic
- Is expensive
- Requires a qait of at least 2 years
- Requires medical reports and pathologies trans identities
- Depends on a panel of strangers deciding a trans person’s identity for them
- Doesn’t offer legal recognition to trans people under 18
- Ignores non-binary people
- Requires married trans people to get permission from their spouse
- Leaves people in a legal grey area
The changes that are needed;
- To make the process affordable, straightforward and easy to understand
- To allow for a statutory declaration without a need for medical reports
- Legal recognition for under 18s
- Legal recognition for non-binary people
- For the process to be quicker
Whether you belong to the LGBTQ+ community or not, we need to stand together for the rights of Trans and Non-binary people.
Another opportunity to support Trans people is a charity event the NUS Trans Officer, Jess Bradley is running to raise money in order to send books to LGBTQ+ prisoners. If this is something you would be interested in supporting, you can find more here - https://www.youcaring.com/lgbtqprisoners-1116269
You can read more:
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
indy100 : How cis people can be better allies in 2018
Phill Dowler (Vice-President Surrey)
Riley Clowes (Vice-President Kent)