The Evolution of IDAHOBIT: A Day to Stand Against LGBTQI Discrimination

The Evolution of IDAHOBIT: A Day to Stand Against LGBTQI Discrimination
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By Adrian Murdoch

Last year, nearly 300,000 Australians reported participating in IDAHOBIT celebrations across the country. In 2017, this figure was reported as being closer to 10,000. 

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia is observed on May 17 and aims to coordinate national events that raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ discrimination and build inclusion across Australia through visibility and education.

IDAHOBIT: Evolving Since 1990

The date was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990, but since then the importance of this day has continued to evolve.

Going back to 2004, the first activations were celebrated as ‘IDAHO’ with a focus on homophobia, but evolved in 2009, with transphobia added to the name of the campaign (IDAHOT), as activities that year focused on violence and discrimination against transgender people.

Six years later saw the inclusion of biphobia and in recent years, the inclusion of interphobia (or intersexphobia), to broaden the scope and conversations around discrimination experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community. Terminology and acronyms might change, but this adaptability is essential to the authenticity of the day and propelling important conversations forward, bringing an awareness both to the consciousness of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies.

We Must Understand the Diverse Experiences of Discrimination Different Identities Face

When we consider the growth of the day, from 68 registered organisations in 2017, increasing to 970 in 2019 and then in 2021, over 2,100 registrations, this day of education and visibility is reaching more and more Australians. As such, continuing the dialogue of diverse identities within the LGBTQIA+ community will be an important conversation to ensure both our community and allies, who engage with the day, understand the diverse experiences of discrimination different identities can face in their day-to-day. This can range from the biphobia and erasure still experienced from within the LGBTQIA+ community, the varying levels of gender affirmation access from state to state, to the calls from the intersex community urging a ban on non-consensual ‘sex-normalisation’ surgeries. 

In 2022, the focus is on Building LGBTQIA+ Inclusion, a call to action for the community, but particularly for allies who observe the day to drive inclusion through meaningful action. This is important, particularly in the workplace, where for a range of factors Out at Work (2018) Diversity Council Australia notes 68% of LGBTQIA+ employees in Australia are not out to everyone at work, with 74% of LGBTQIA+ respondents saying it was important to them to be able to be out at work. It highlights the importance of days like IDAHOBIT, which can make a meaningful impact on creating inclusive workplaces. 2021 participants reported by Minus18 said:

  • 98% celebrating IDAHOBIT had a positive impact on their organisation or community
  • 74% of activity organisers report the day sparked ongoing LGBTQIA+ inclusion initiatives.

Fostering Inclusive School Spaces

The day is also increasingly recognised by schools across Australia, as increasingly we see higher rates of LGBTQIA+ young people coming out, with reports of up to 21% of some High School students.

Fostering inclusive school spaces has seen an increase in education for students and teachers, increasing visibility through Flag Raising Ceremonies and sparking conversations among students to increase peer respect and empathy.

In the past few months, this has particularly gained momentum as the Religious Freedoms Bill and the Citipointe College example highlighted the life-altering impacts discrimination can have on LGBTQIA+ young people.

Hundreds of schools in Australia have accessed free pride packs to host events for IDAHOBIT and booked workshops through Minus18, building an awareness of identity and building allyship in some of the most formative years for young people.

‘Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination’ 

Already, 2022 is shaping up to be the largest celebration of IDAHOBIT that Australia has seen to date, with thousands of registrations from organisations, schools and community groups. And as our community grows, so might the language used to celebrate the day.

As many continue to use IDAHOBIT, many now extend it as “Day Against LGBTQIA+ Discrimination” to include our whole community. The evolution of this day is its strength, reflecting the values and needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, which continues to evolve, a lesson we have learned in the past of that no identity can be left behind in the pursuit of equality. 

Want to get involved on May 17th? Download a free toolkit at: 

Adrian Murdoch is the Partnerships and Campaigns Coordinator for Minus18.

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