17th May: no steps back

Let’s celebrate the International Day against homophobia and transphobia!


In 2004, the UN decided to dedicate a day to draw society’s attention to the violence and discriminations experienced by LGBTI people all over the world. They chose the 17th of Maybecause in this day, on 1990, homosexuality was officially removed from the International classification of diseases of the WHO. So, this is a time meant to reflect on the steps forward we have taken, but also on the steps back: rights and freedom, unfortunately, are not those kind of things we can afford to give for granted!



Firstly, the UN stressed out that there is a growing recognition worldwide that same-sexual orientation and different gender identities or expressions are not mental or physical disorders. Indeed, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on Dudgeon v. UK in 1981 opened the doors to the possibility to erase homosexual intercourses from crime codes all over the world. A growing number of governments also started to consider granting legal recognition to same-sex marriages, but in 2020 only 30 countries and territories had enacted a law allowing these weddings, most of them in Europe or America[1].

The fight for social rights in many countries has been more difficult for transgender people: most of them, indeed, do not have access to gender recognition by their own State and the pandemic has often worsened the effects of their discrimination in the health sector. Only in 2019, the World Health Assembly adopted a revision of the International Classification of Diseases, which removed trans-related categories from the mental and behavioural disorders, but it will take time to erase these prejudices in the society[2].

Secondly, the Council of Europe stressed out that despite the undeniable progresses, LGBTI people in Europe are still stigmatized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, the Commissioner of Human Rights warns that the current environment in Europe is characterized by an increase in intolerance of LGBTI people and legislative steps to rollback-established rights[3]. Especially, it highlights the political manipulation of homophobia and transphobia, the increasing influence of anti-gender groups and pitting the human rights of LGBTI people against other human rights. For instance, the human rights of transgender people are opposed to the rights of women or a comprehensive sexuality education with LGBTI related topic is presented as conflicting with the right of parents to educate their children.

In conclusion, fighting against homophobia and transphobia is not just about conquering more rights or social recognition, but it is also about assuring what we have already achieved and never take a step back.


Articolo a cura di: Laura Tondolo


[1] D. Masci, E. Pondrebarac Sciupac, M. Lipka, “Same-sex marriage around the world”, https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/fact-sheet/gay-marriage-around-the-world/ [2] UN Human rights office High Commissioner, “The struggles of trans and gender-diverse persons”, https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/ie-sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity/struggle-trans-and-gender-diverse-persons [3] Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights , “HUMAN RIGHTS OF LGBTI PEOPLE IN EUROPE: CURRENT THREATS TO EQUAL RIGHTS, CHALLENGES FACED BY DEFENDERS, AND THE WAY FORWARD”, 2021, https://rm.coe.int/human-rights-of-lgbti-people-in-europe-current-threats-to-equal-rights/1680a4be0e

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