IDAHoBiT International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia 2016
This evening I was honoured to be invited amoungst the speakers at the annual Sheffield IDAHoBiT event. IDAHoBiT, the International Day Against Homophobie, Biphobia and Transphobia commemorates the date in 1990 when the World Health Organisation declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Transcript of my speech below:-
"Hi, for those of you who don't know me, I'm Heather and I am the co-chair of this years Pride Sheffield committee.
It's great to see so many people here today who support equality and want to celebrate the diversity in our city.
IDAHoBiT is the day that we celebrate 26 years since the World Health Organisation decided that LGB people don't have a mental disorder, something incidentally it has yet to do for the trans* members of our community. Although I was pleased to hear the announcement just this week, that Denmark from 1st January next year will be removing the classification, with or without WHO backing, hopefully leading the way for other countries to follow suit.
Today we celebrate the advances made by activists and campaigners before us, from the abolition of Section 28, equalizing the age of consent and same sex marriage amongst others. We have come a long way, but we still have a lot of work to do.
40% of the world's population live in countries where LGB people can be imprisoned for being just for being themselves and over 400 million people live under laws which punish same sex sex with the death penalty. There are 24 countries in Europe which still require trans* people to get sterilised. And here in the UK while we theoretically have some legal protections other countries don't have we still experience hate crime, bullying and discrimination.
The theme of this years IDAHoBiT is mental health and wellbeing. As LGBT people, the challenges and discrimination we face result in us having much higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings than our heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
In preparation for speaking here today I was reading up on some figures from the LGBT Foundation which are quite frankly horrific. LGB people are twice as likely to attempt suicide than the general population and this figure rises to 45 times more likely for trans* people. Over half of young gay people and 85% of trans* youth have self harmed. We have higher rates of eating disorders, drug and alcohol dependency, the list goes on.
So our fight for equality is far from won. Just being able to get married and not being classified as criminal or mentally ill is not equality. Every time a young person is bullied in school, or we are heckled on the street, every time we have to consider whether we feel safe to come out at school, work or any other situation, every time someone is denied the basic right of access to health care because of their gender identity, every time we have to consider our safety just getting dressed to leave the house we are not equal.
So while we may have come a long way it is so important that we recognise that our work is far from done. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Intersexism. And looking out on everyone here today gives me confidence and hope that we can continue to make these positive changes. One person can make a difference but a united group of people can change to world – Be that change.