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May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Saturday May 17, 2014

On May 17, LGBT groups across the world will observe International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, with this year's theme being the Freedom of Expression. They will use their "Thunderclap" online flashmob tool to have hundred of people send the same message to legislators at once.

"On 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), ARTICLE 19, IDAHO Committee and IFEX are launching a Thunderclap to join thousands of voices together to demand that these freedom of expression rights be respected," organizers write. "Add your voice to the social media storm for LGBT rights."

Around the world thousands of people will be taking to the streets and the internet on May 17 to demand respect for everyone's right to free expression, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Activists in countries like Turkey, Russia and Armenia will highlight a need to challenge anti-propaganda, obscenity and public morality laws that are being used to close down spaces for public assembly, shut down LGBT websites, silence journalists and human rights defenders and justify police actions targeting vulnerable communities.

In countries like Brazil and the U.S., activists will use the day to highlight the right wing religious arguments that curb diversity education and anti-bullying campaigns in schools under the argument that they will promote homosexuality.

And in countries like Uganda and Kenya, LGBT activist are challenging the argument that gay rights goes against those countries cultures, and the very hostile context in which the situation is playing out.

Various activists from across the world have highlighted the freedom of expression as an effective way to promote trans and gender non-conforming people’s rights to self-determine their gender identities and expressions. They are pushing for more accurate and positive representations in the media, and for much-needed improvements in the scope, quality and human rights credentials of gender-identity recognition laws worldwide.

The campaign will enlist artists, performers, writers and educators who have show how the infringement on our freedoms restrict not only LGBT community voices, but limit freedom of expression for all people.

Even in those countries where freedom of expression is legally guaranteed and politically defended, LGBTs encounter limits every day on what they can feel or express about who they are or how they want to impact social change.

Groups will tackle issues including LGBT refugees, asylum, migration, stigma around HIV, and biphobia. They will seek for ways to fight discrimination through education and by creating alliances with progressive voices of faith.

"Together, we will demand that freedom of expression of LGBT people is fully respected," write organizers. "We will call for an end to the culture of violence and intimidation that leads to the self-censorship of LGBT people and of the media and the rejection of discriminatory legislation that criminalizes discussion of issues affecting LGBT people end."

For more information, visit

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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