International day against homophobia, biphobia & transphobia

On the 17th of May, across our continent and the world, people come together to mark this day and pledge once again to do everything possible to fight against LGBTphobia. 

The 17th of May this year comes around shortly after the European parliament declared our continent as an LGBT+ freedom zone; a move in response to the backtracking of some basic LGBTQIA+ rights in some EU member states. In these member states, the LGBTQIA+ community has faced increased discrimination, attacks and have been the victim of vicious disinformation campaigns. 

The declaration of Europe as an LGBT+ Freedom Zone states that:

‘‘LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution, and authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons’’, [1]

This declaration is an important step forward, of course, but what more must be done, beyond statements and social media posts to secure the safety and freedom of the LGBTQIA+ community in Europe?

A stain on Europe’s advancement in recent years has been the appearance of LGBT-free zones in Poland alongside a total reverse of LGBT+ rights in Hungary, where the existence of trans people is denied. The problem of reversing LGBTQIA+ rights is not just an eastern European problem. In the British state, the national minister for equalities pledged to limit support services to young trans people [2], transphobic hate crimes have quadrupled in the last few years and homophobic attacks are on the rise [3]. In the Spanish state, earlier this year, trans rights activists had to go on hunger strike to pressure the government to draft legislation that would improve trans rights [4] . 

Across Europe, LGBTQIA+ people regularly have to hear far right politicians & hate groups speak out against our rights, as these parties and groups are given frequent platforms in the media and online. 

To return to the question of what more must be done? It’s time for all of us to join together in one voice, fighting for equality, fighting against hate speech and fighting for our rights. Whilst declarations are welcome, they are not enough. When we see or hear instances of anti-LGBTQIA+ language, it is our duty to challenge and to call it out. It is also our duty to demand more rights and demand lawmakers do more to ensure an equal society for all. 

This, especially, includes trans and non-binary people, who are facing frequent challenges to their existence and rights, not just from the far right but from across the political spectrum. The responsibility is on us as individuals to make our spaces as accommodating as possible to these communities and to fight for their rights. 

The responsibility is also on us to challenge authorities that discriminate, we can take inspiration from the German priests in over 100 churches in Germany that are defying the Vatican to bless gay couples [5].

EFAy will fight for LGBTQIA+ rights on all levels, we will advocate for increased LGBTQIA+ education and fight discrimination of every kind. After all, our vision of a Europe of all people, is exactly that. A Europe for everyone where everyone is equal. 

[1] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210304IPR99219/parliament-declares-the-european-union-an-lgbtiq-freedom-zone

[2] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/why-were-worried-about-government’s-statement-trans-rights-legislation

[3] https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/why-do-we-need-international-day-against-homophobia-biphobia-and-transphobia

[4] https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/spain-trans-rights-supporters-hunger-strike-law-76361847

[5]https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-57055162