Recommitting Ourselves on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

Today, we celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. On this IDAHOT, we can recognize historic gains for transgender people last week in our country, but we are humbled by the ongoing discrimination, persecution, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights by transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer individuals around the world.

International violence against LGBTQ people is a growing concern, and over 75 countries criminalize same-sex relations between adults.

In April, Bangladeshi LGBT activists Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub were hacked to death by an Al Qaeda affiliate. The Islamic State have thrown dozens of men from tall buildings to their deaths because they were perceived to be gay. In Nigeria, gay men continue to be harassed and beaten. Justice has not come for high profile transphobic and homophobic attacks in Argentina and Greece, respectively. Six students in Tunisia were sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of “sodomy”. Egyptians continue to face human rights violations under charges of “debauchery”. It remains a sad fact that the gross criminalization of LGBTQ people is intertwined with the denial of fundamental human rights and due process.

Our nation has to do more to protect transgender people, particularly trans women of color. Just last year, over 20 trans people were killed due to transphobia. I was proud to host the first-ever Congressional Forum on the Violence Against Transgender People in November of last year.

The Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force brought together survivors, families, advocates and experts to discuss what can be done to combat the epidemic of violence against transgender people. Following the Forum, I introduced the first-ever congressional resolution expressing support for transgender acceptance. The Task Force has been a powerhouse for transgender people since its launch.

Over the last six months, the Task Force has made over a dozen formal requests to the President Obama’s Administration calling on fairer treatment for equality in immigration detention facilities, emergency shelters, school facilities, health care, service in the Armed Forces, medical requirements for pilots, and more.

On this IDAHOT we affirm the worth of LGBTQ people everywhere. Everyone should be free to live their own lives no matter who they are, who they love, or where they live.

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