The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is a day to celebrate diversity and to raise awareness of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTIQ+) people. This year’s theme, “Breaking the Silence”, is more appropriate than ever.
LGBTIQ+ people still face serious challenges in their everyday life. With 69 countries still criminalizing same sex relations, millions of lesbians, gay men and bisexual people live in fear of being who they are and showing whom they love. Transgender people are subjected to punishments in at least 26 countries and experience unprecedented levels of violence across the globe.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on LGBTIQ+ people. With 4 billion people in lockdown worldwide, there are growing number of reports about emergency powers being used to target LGBTIQ+ people. This includes the misuse of digital technologies to monitor people’s movements during lockdowns or curfews. LGBTIQ+ people are reporting an elevated risk of domestic and family violence, increased social isolation and anxiety as well as difficulties in accessing crucial HIV treatment and gender-affirming health services. The economic crisis is also disproportionally affecting LGBTIQ+ people, many of whom work in the informal sector or are unemployed and lack access to paid sick leave or unemployment compensation.
People and their rights must be placed front and centre in the COVID-19 response and recovery. We must break the silence when it comes to the stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ+ people. At the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), we are working as part of the UN family to help break the silence that harms LGBTIQ+ people and ultimately impacts us all. UNDP is currently working in 53 countries, partnering with LGBTIQ+ communities and policymakers, to strengthen inclusion of LGBTI people in national development initiatives.
On this day, let’s raise our voices and recommit our efforts to put human dignity at the heart of all that we do to build more just and more inclusive societies.