International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia: Why LGBTI Prides are about human rights

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia: Why LGBTI Prides are about human rights

Today is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) (17 May). This year’s IDAHO will focus on freedom of expression, ‘encouraging everyone to help make the world a “Free Expression Zone”.

In June 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich village where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people frequently gathered. At the time, same-sex conduct was illegal throughout the United States. The raid sparked an international movement to challenge discrimination against LGBTI people, and since 1970, Pride marches have been organised all over the world to commemorate Stonewall. 

“Stonewall happens every day…When you go to a Pride march and you see people standing on the side of the road watching and then someone takes that first step off the curb to join the marchers, that’s Stonewall all over again,” says Virginia Apuzzo, a LGBTI activist who came out after having read about the Stonewall uprising.

Pride marches are crucial for LGBTI organisations, communities and individuals to mobilise against homophobia and transphobia, send clear-cut messages to policy makers and take a firm stand against discrimination.

“The Baltic pride has positively impacted on both the LGBTI community and wider society,” says Vladimir Simonko, Board Chair of the Lithuanian Gay League, the organisers of the Baltic Pride in Vilnius in 2010 and 2013.

“One of its assets is that it gives a unique space to LGBTI people so they can raise awareness and visibility about their rights, and at the same time lets LGBTI friendly people speak out in support, regardless of their own sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s also a real unifying force that brings together all kinds of people under a unique set of common, political claims.”

It’s not a whim, it’s about human rights

As a form of expression and peaceful assembly, LGBTI Prides are protected by international human rights law. States must not only respect, protect and fulfil the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly without discrimination of any kind, but they also have a positive obligation to facilitate the right to peaceful assembly in law and practice.

This means it is the right of the participants to peacefully gather and take part in the Prides. And states, in particular law enforcement officials, have the positive duty to ensure the protection of participants and organisers of any lawful assembly without discrimination.

Everything’s not Rosy for Prides in Europe

In 2013, LGBTI Pride marches have taken place for the first time in a number of European countries including Moldova, Montenegro and Ukraine. But regrettably, LGBTI organisations and individuals still continue to be discriminated against and blocked from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

In 2013, Prides were banned in Belarus, Russia and Serbia. The Pride march in Tbilisi, Georgia was not adequately protected by the police, and the police did not thoroughly investigate violence at the Budva Pride march in Montenegro. Pride march organisers in Ukraine, Lithuania and Moldova faced barriers, and the marches took place with restrictions or only after repeated attempts to ban them from going ahead.
For information on Prides at Risk, download our campaign leaflet, which includes a detailed map. 

Be part of a movement to tackle LGBTI discrimination! Be part of a ‘Stonewall’ near you!

Take action:

• Participate in your local Pride march and engage in Amnesty International actions on Prides at Risk.
• Show your solidarity by signing our petition calling on the Bulgarian Minister of Justice to take immediate action to secure the protection of LGBTI individuals against hate-motivated violence and discrimination.
• Follow and share our updates on Facebook and Twitter
• Send messages of solidarity to the organisers of Belgrade Pride.
The Pride march, planned for 31May, is at risk of a last minute ban. Show solidarity with the organisers by collecting solidarity photographs specifically referencing Belgrade Pride.
We particularly encourage you to have messages in Serbian such as: Ovo je Prajd. (meaning: “This is Pride.”) Prajd. Normalno. (meaning: “Pride. Of course.”) or in English or your language: “Marching for Belgrade Pride”, “For Belgrade Pride”, “In solidarity with Belgrade Pride”, etc.
Please send your messages to Todor Gardos at [email protected] who will pass on these messages to the organisers. The below photo might inspire you!