17 May – International Day Against Homophobia
For the second time, today, the world marks International Day Against Homophobia. Homophobia is an irrational fear and dislike of homosexuality and of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Similar to racism, xenophobia or sexism, when fear and dislike is targeted at particular groups of people, homophobia leads to prejudice, discrimination and even violence against LGBT people.
Unfortunately homophobia and the consequent discrimination and prejudice against LGBT people are still present in Europe. European countries and European organisations have done a lot of work to ensure homophobia is addressed and eliminated. Nevertheless some LGBT people in Europe are still being discriminated against and experience disadvantage in many areas of everyday life such as employment, education, housing, social security, and pension provision. Same-sex partners and their children in many European countries are not legally acknowledged and recognised. Hateful statements against LGBT people expressed by some politicians, religious leaders and fellow citizens are frequent occurrences in some European countries. Tragically some LGBT people are still being physically assaulted and even murdered in Europe because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
ILGA-Europe is working to raise and address the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at European level. In particular we lobby, campaign, inform and educate such European organisations and their institutions as the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We also provide network and capacity building support to our members - LGBT organisations in Europe.
Patricia Prendiville, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe said:
“Fighting homophobia and making life safer and free from discrimination for LGBT Europeans is our prime task. Our activities include patient and targeted awareness raising work on LGBT issues among numerous European institutions. This involves providing information, conducting research, presenting policy papers and proposals – all with the aim of having our concerns and issues included and addressed by the various European institutions. ILGA-Europe strives as much as possible to provide support to our members in individual countries. Our annual conference, other networking and capacity building events, various publications, and website are all designed to empower LGBT groups to fight homophobia in their own countries and in society generally.
We acknowledge all the positive achievements by the European institutions to make homophobia in Europe a thing of the past, but we also need to issue the reminder that there is a lot of work which still needs to be done. In Europe, the EU, the CoE and the OSCE all have a vital role to play in making our continent a better place for all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
For more information please contact Juris Lavrikovs at + 32 2 609 54 16 / + 32 496 708 375
Notes for editors:
(1) ILGA-Europe is the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and works for equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Europe.