17 May 2022

Edito by Jolien Lamberigts 
A gorgeous rainbow cake with a witty quote on it is displayed on the office’s kitchen counter. Next to it, a big bright birthday card and an enormous rainbow flag.
Today is the 17th of May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (in short, IDAHOT). But why is that so and why would you care? Let me explain.

I'm going to assume you know about the World Health Organization, if not, Google is your friend. One of their core responsibilities is the development and maintenance of international health classification systems such as the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD).  
What that means is:  
when the WHO says something is bad for you, health practitioners worldwide will accept this as facts and diagnose you accordingly.   Now, some influential people in the late 1940’s, decided that they didn’t like homosexuality that much. So, it got classified as a sexual deviation and gay people were seen as illegal, mentally ill criminals (even though subsequent research did not support this view). This gave free reign to the disturbing and degrading practices that had been going on for decades in mental institutions and behind closed doors.   If anyone knew you were gay, you basically ceased to exist in the eyes of society.  
And as a non-person, anyone was allowed to do anything with you with no consequences.  

It wasn’t until 1969, that the Stonewall Riots (look it up!) and a lot of continuous activisms led to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the APA (American Psychiatric Organization) in the 1970’s.  

Only years later, on the 17th of May in 1990, the World Health Organization sluggishly followed. Merely 32 years ago, homosexuality was removed from the ICD as a mental disorder. Transgender identity officially followed in early 2019.   So today, I’m eating cake with my colleagues. To celebrate the wins for the LGBTQ+* community in the fight to be humanized, to have equal rights, to be treated as equals. Living conditions have undeniably improved the last decades, yet it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. While today is a celebration, it’s also a reminder to keep showing solidarity, to keep standing up for your LGBTQ+ friends and family. To do right by your fellow humans. So that maybe one day, love completely trumps hate.  

Are you with us?     

*LGBTQ+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and (+) other sexualities and gender identities

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