IDAHOBIT 2023 – the power of perseverance

May 16, 2023

The rights of LGBTIQ+ people are under attack. Around the world, we see that hard-won gains are being rolled back. Queer people have never been as visible as today, but their visibility seems to come at a price. Today, Hivos applauds the courage and determination of the global queer community.

Every May 17, Hivos commemorates the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). This year, the international community of activists and organizations who fight for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community wants to emphasize how our diversity unites us.

Emergency situation in Uganda

Recent developments in East Africa have demonstrated growing societal and governmental aggression against LGBTIQ+ individuals. Since March 21, when the Ugandan parliament passed a bill criminalizing the mere existence of queer people, the LGBTIQ community has been under attack. “Since the new law has passed, people have been persecuted, fired and evicted,” explains Saida Ali, Hivos’ program manager of Free to be Me. “This is not only happening in Uganda, but also in neighboring countries such as Kenya.”

Hivos and our partners stand in solidarity with the Ugandan LGBTIQ+ community and are actively working to support those in danger. With Hivos’ Bessy Ferrera Fund, we can help LGBTIQ+ activists in life-threatening emergencies.

At the same time, Saida sees a lot of resilience and connection within the community. “They know how to organize themselves in an incredible way. They find safe ways to come together and know how to reach out to organizations for support. And sometimes support is all it takes to make yourself strong.”

A legal success in the Andean region

The forces we’re up against are not only in East Africa. Across the world we see the same narratives creating a violent backlash against the rights of LGBTIQ+ people.

The Andean Region, made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, is experiencing a similar rise of actors with social and political influence whose rhetoric puts LGBTIQ+ people at great risk. Among them, fundamentalist religious leaders and nationalist and conservative politicians stand out. Their praise of traditional values and rejection of sexual diversity and gender equality exposes LGBTIQ+ people to increased hatred and violence.

For years, Hivos has actively advocated for LGBTIQ+ rights in this region. Fortunately, the strong collaboration with LGBTIQ+ advocates is paying off. In April 2022, the Andean Parliament approved Recommendation No. 493, which protects the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people. The historic ruling calls on Andean states to harmonize pro-rights laws throughout the region.

Over the next few months, we will work hard with our partners to ensure the recommendation is ratified by the individual member states in their national legislations.

Finding religious allies

In our effort to advance the rights of LGBTIQ+ people, we need to forge alliances with those bold enough to stand up for the human rights of all people.

Religious leaders have the power to change the course of history by promoting social inclusion for all. Hivos’ ally and partner, the Global Interfaith Network, recently launched a new video series called Fearless Allies that features 8 inspiring Global South religious leaders who have become allies of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Celebrating the power of perseverance

On IDAHOBIT 2023, we not only recognize the opposition the LGBTIQ+ community is facing, we’re also celebrating the power of unified perseverance and the achievements we’ve managed to accomplish nevertheless.