17 May 2018: Conversations surrounding International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

On the 17th of May 2018, countries around the world will gather in celebration of the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB). This follows the unanimous decision made by prominent LGBTQ organisations that this year’s IDAHOTB theme would be “Alliances for Solidarity”. Since its conceptualisation in 2004, May 17 is now celebrated in more than 130 countries. These mobilisations unite millions of people in support of the recognition of human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. 

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia


History of IDAHTOB 

On the 17th of May 1990, the World Health Organisation made public that homosexuality will no longer be considered a mental illness. To commemorate this significant event, LGBTQ organisations announced that May 17th should be declared, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Joel Bedos, director of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, pointed out to the Washington Blade this year’s theme — “Solidarity and Alliances” — “underlines how intricate the struggles of LGBTI people are with other social struggles.”
Inxeba (The Wound)

South Africa 

In 2010, UNAIDS published that gay men and men who have sex with men have an HIV prevalence of 26.8% in South Africa. So why is South Africa passing opportunities like IDAHOTB to join global conversations on issues pertaining the LGBTQ community by recognising this day? Why does it seem that conversations surrounding the well -being of the “other” are still taboo?  

A recent controversy to rock South Africa was the release of the isiXhosa film Inxeba (The Wound), which despite winning multiple international awards, it had a mixed reception among South Africans. The film explores homosexuality within a traditional initiation setting, and much of the outcry has been attributed to homophobia. Los Angeles Times stated that Inxeba simply asks: ”What if your sense of self doesn’t conform to this view of becoming a man”. 

Inxeba will be screened to day in Pretoria, followed by a discussion with the producer and casting director (see poster image for details). Even if you can’t make the screening, watching this film with your friends and family could be a great way to open up the conversation.  

As previously mentioned, the LGBTQ community constitutes a significant population of South Africans living with HIV.  We need to promote a culture of openness and transparency to overcome   homophobia, transphobia and biphobia so that stigma will not be the prevailing reason that LGBTQ communities do not seek medical assistance in order to prevent and treat sexual disease. Let’s all celebrate IDAHOTB on the 17th of May by joining in and welcoming discussion surrounding sexual disease within the LGBTQ community to not only educate ourselves but to stand in solidarity with those who have been historically disregarded.  

#IDAHOTB , lets join the conversation!