This year, celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) using Australian-made lenses on popular social media app Snapchat.

Snap Inc. Australia has collaborated with young volunteers from Minus18, Australia’s leading organisation for LGBTQI youth, to create a series of augmented reality (AR) lenses to celebrate IDAHOBIT on May 17, 2020.

“Recent social distancing requirements have removed the ability for many to connect psychically, and it is important for young people to continue to celebrate their individual identity and the wider queer community,” says Minus18 CEO Micah Scott.

The celebration assumes significance in times of a global pandemic that has limited access to traditional safe spaces for queer youth looking to connect with each other. Studies show that LGBTQI youth in Australia  are twice as likely to be diagnosed and treated for a mental health illnesses. Three out of four Australian LGBTQI youth have reported experiencing some form of bullying and discrimination.

The Snap lenses were the result of a two-hour virtual workshop held with LGBTQI identified youth earlier this month. The lenses are available on the app from May 12, 2020.

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For Miller Soding, who created an IDAHOBIT Ally lens, it was important to acknowledge the fact that no one person represents every acronym in the LGBTQI spectrum. “We are all allies to each other and need to be actively supporting and standing up for each pocket of the LGBTQIA+ community,”says Miller.

Miller challenges the assumption of universally acceptance of the community and points out that not long ago same sex relations were illegal. “In the last 10 years we’ve seen great progress for the LGBTQIA+ community; birth certificate reforms in various states, marriage equality, and a general increase in visibility and understanding of the community. We are still facing political and social challenges like the Religious Discrimination Bill and there’s also a long way to go in the fight for intersex and trans rights,” adds Miller.

Adrian Murdoch, Partnerships Coordinator, Minus18 informs Star Observer that the organisation has shifted their 2020-2021 Strategic Plan to include creating online spaces and events for young people to connect. “In the current climate of COViD19, we’ve seen an increase of LGBTQIA+ young people looking for more spaces to connect to peers, particularly for those who might be living in unsupportive home environments,” says Murdoch.

“IDAHOBIT is such an important date for the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly for visibility and engaging our supporters and allies. The snapchat lenses are a fantastic way for young people to celebrate identity with their friends and family, but in a way where they have control of who can see and engage with that content. We’re proud of our young people… they understand the barriers that many young people still face, for instance those who might feel socially isolated in regional and rural areas – but can connect through platforms like Snapchat to help break down those barriers”.

According to Kathryn Carter, General Manager, Snap Inc. ANZ, its newest initiative for IDAHOBIT ties in with its aim to create a positive, inclusive and fun environment for its users. “As the leading communication platform for youth in Australia, we remain committed to offering a safe and engaging platform that allows you to be your authentic self, while communicating with your close friends,” says Carter.

It recently released an in-app tool Here For You, “that provides Snapchatters access to professionally accredited tools, resources and support contacts relating to mental health and wellbeing.”

 

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