1. What is homophobia?
It's all the negative attitudes that can lead to rejection and to direct or indirect discrimination towards gay men, lesbians, and bisexual, transsexual or transgender people or toward anyone whose physical appearance or behaviour does not fit masculine or feminine stereotypes.
The following are variants of homophobia
• Bi-phobia: aversion towards bisexual people or bisexuality;
• Gayphobia: aversion towards gay men or male homosexuality;
• Lesbophobia: aversion towards lesbian women or female homosexuality.
Both on a conscious or sub-conscious level, homophobia surfaces in various ways and can even be internalised.
2. What is transphobia?
Transphobia is a negative attitude or feeling, a discomfort or an aversion towards transgender people, transsexuals or people who are transitioning.
3. What is the International Day Against Homophobia?
The International Day Against Homophobia is an annual thematic event occurring every May 17. This is a unifying moment during which a great number of activities are taking place. It also represents an opportunity to organize educational and awareness activities. Citizens from all walks of life are invited to reflect on homophobia and its devastating effects.
4. Why is the International Day Against Homophobia so important?
Homophobia is an insidious process that channels its effects through subtle, even disguised, ways. No one is safe from hostile manifestations of homosexuality. Like other forms of discrimination and intolerance such as racism, sexism or antisemitism, homophobia has important, sometimes devastating, repercussions for its victims.
Because of it, certain people have difficulty accepting and living a sexual orientation that is different from that of the majority, the suicide rate among young gays is much higher than with their heterosexual peers, a great number of gays and lesbians live in secret and in fear of rejection, and transgendered and transsexual persons still live on the fringe of society.
If progressive laws such as the Civil Marriage Act legalizing same-sex marriage are today a reality, social equality among all citizens regardless of the sexual orientation or sexual identity remains to be achieved.
5. Why May 17?
May 17th is symbolic due to its significance in improving the status of gays and lesbians. In removing homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses on a May 17, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put an end to over a century of homophobia in the medical field. IDAHO organization proposed this date for annually holding a day set aside to fight homophobia. The Declaration of Montréal (July 29, 2006), borne out of the International Conference on LGBT Rights that preceded the first World Outgames, recommended the worldwide recognition of an International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 of each year.
6. What are the goals that should be pursued on that day?
• promote the growth of harmonious relationships among people, regardless of their sexual orientation;
• further the inclusion of homosexual persons in society;
• encourage citizens to understand sexual diversity;
• strive to put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in keeping with the charters of rights and freedoms;
• give rise to a general open mindedness towards diversity, and other related values in our society;
• show the devastating effects of homophobia;
• propose and put in place concrete means to fight homophobia;
• induce all sympathizers to organize activities aimed at fighting homophobia;
• set up a consultation process among its partners;
• converge all anti-homophobia activities on a single day;
• put together an organizational structure capable of insuring the survival and recurrence of the event
7. How can I get involved in the fight against homophobia?
There are a number of ways people can contribute to the fight against homophobia. The International Day Against Homophobia is the perfect opportunity to make such efforts. There are a few simple ways to participate. For instance, we suggest that:
• parents tell their children that, regardless of their sexual orientation, they will love them just the same;
• teachers and instructors talk about homophobia in the classroom;
• libraries clearly display books on homophobia
• employers set up programs against homophobia in the workplace;
• trade unions organize awareness activities in the workplace;
• community groups heighten awareness among their constituencies;
• broadcasters present special reports and documentaries on the subject;
• newspapers publish reports and in-depth articles on the subject;
• radio and television stations call upon artists and personalities to speak on the subject, and play songs about tolerance;
• internet diffusers take out or refuse any homophobic content;
• gays and lesbians who wish to do so “come out” of the closet;
• legislators, governments, municipalities and school boards approve a motion in support of the International Day Against Homophobia, and make a commitment to fight homophobia; and that
• people in general make a symbolic gesture in their entourage