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18 May 2021
Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia 2021

For decades, LGBTIQA+ sexual and gender diverse and non-conforming people have been discriminated against, marginalised and criminalised. Even today, 71 countries still criminalise same-sex sexual relations, and half of those countries are in Africa. That’s why UWC’s Gender Equity Unit (GEU) supports the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

IDAHOBIT celebrated annually on 17 May, was first observed in 2004 to bring awareness to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQA+ people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics. In addition, the day also memorialises the World Health Organization’s resolution in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The Gender Equity Unit at UWC supports the 2021 IDAHOBIT theme: “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing.” But supporting the LGBTIQA+ community isn’t something that should happen one day a year.

LGBTIQA+ sexual and gender diverse, and non-conforming people endure endemic levels of violence, bans on gender-affirming medical care including hormone therapy and surgery, and have to constantly defend their truth and bodily autonomy. In South Africa, as in the rest of the world, LGBTIQA+ sexual and gender diverse and non-conforming people in our communities continue to be amongst the most vulnerable, which has been further highlighted by COVID-19, The GEU is committed to seeking racial justice and gender equity while contributing with a more inclusive, transformative, supportive response to historically marginalised groups.

In a 2016 survey by Out Well-Being Report, the reality of widespread homophobia in South Africa, particularly in the workplace, conveyed that more than half (55%) of respondents live with the fear that they will experience discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This fear is based on lived experiences, while 44% confirmed experiencing discrimination as a result of being LGBTIQA+, gender and sexually diverse or non-conforming.

To combat that kind of constant discrimination, the GEU’s Loud Enuf Programme focuses on the LGBTIAQ+ community on campus. The aim is to create safe spaces for people who are - or feel - marginalised because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The programme provides social support for LGBTIQA+ students, in collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.

Coming Together For A Better World

Loud Enuf has played a critical role in raising awareness on campus as well as in the wider Cape Town community. The programme has been a trailblazer in the promotion of IDAHOBIT every year with protests, workshops, seminars and information sessions. Through the Loud Enuf programme, students are expected to become change agents within their own lives and partake in personal action activities throughout the year.

This month, In the midst of a global pandemic, the UWC GEU Loud Enuf will host an online virtual safe space for students who identify as LGBTIQA+ or those with non-conforming gender identities, or who are exploring their own sexuality or gender identities. Allies are more than welcome to join.

IDAHOBIT is now celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal. Thousands of initiatives, big and small, are reported throughout the planet.

As we observe the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the GEU would like to pay tribute to all those in South Africa, Africa and around the globe who are supporting and promoting the rights of the LGBTIQA+ gender and sexually diverse and gender non-conforming people.

LGBTIQA+ activists, civil society, government departments, feminist organisations and the private sector are called to create awareness and act against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, demand and lobby for changes in laws, policies and practices through mobilisation, networks and coalitions, and awareness campaigns in private and public spheres.

Support the LGBTIQA+ community and the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia by joining the conversation  #IDAHOBIT #IDAHOBIT2021 #WeAreGEU #IamUWC #UWC60