May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia (IDAHOBIT)
On 17 May 1990 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. This date now marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, acknowledging the ongoing discrimination and misperceptions faced by the LGBTI community, but also celebrating advances being made to recognize LGBTI rights and fundamental equality in society. It is a day of hope and positivity as reflected by this year's international theme: 'Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing!'.
Did you know that Belgium (and hence Flanders) has ranked second on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index for many years, with only Malta preceding Belgium? ILGA-Europe is the umbrella organisation bringing together over 600 organisations that advocate for human rights and equality for LGBTI people. The Europe Rainbow Index is ILGA-Europe’s annual benchmarking tool, ranking 49 countries in Europe based on their LGBTI equality laws and policies.
Flanders is also one of the leading regions promoting transgender and intersex rights, primarily through sharing information and increasing public awareness. A central information website (www.transgenderzorg.be) has been launched for caretakers who come into contact with transgender people in a professional context. Flanders has also conducted an Intersex Knowledge and Attitudes Survey, gathering data on public attitudes towards and awareness about intersex people in Flanders and the Netherlands. The questionnaire used in this study will be shared with other countries to assist them in collecting similar data.
The Government of Flanders also supports the LGBTQI community on a broader level in their fight against inequality in different parts of society. These actions are embedded in Flanders’ Horizontal Integration and Equal Opportunities Policy Plan 2020-24. (https://beslissingenvlaamseregering.vlaanderen.be/document-view/5F9272A95B1AD2000800004A?fbclid=IwAR2hadnCn-FdW6qfmXQ_qNj4ZsRNdEoF3PXuU9YGpZnBuaMgsr229Y2chLk)
On 17 May, to show solidarity, the Government of Flanders will fly the Rainbow Flag at all local administrative offices and at several Diplomatic Representations of Flanders abroad. This will include the office of the General Representation of the Government of Flanders in Pretoria, as we wish everyone a happy IDAHOBIT Day!