Today people all over the world are celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

What is IDAHOBIT and what does it mean in 2018?

IDAHOBIT day was created back in 2004 to highlight the violence, discrimination and repression experienced by LGBTQ people all over the world. Designed to get the attention of politicians, world leaders, the media and public to get our voices and stories heard. It’s celebrated in over 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex acts are illegal.

Why is it needed?

There are still over 70 countries that criminalise homosexuality, that’s why days like today are so important. Every year thousands of lives are lost in the fight for equality. Limited access to healthcare, support and protection leaves so many of the LGBTQ community vulnerable and at high risk.

Even when a country relaxes its laws, the fight is far from over. Then comes the battle for sexual health care, equal marriage, adoption, insurance and inheritance rights. The list, unfortunately goes on.

The global LGBTQ situation is still at such a critical point. In the last 18 months alone we’ve seen gay men being taken to concentration camps in Chechnya, crackdowns in Turkey, Beirut and Azerbaijan. Russia’s repressive regime, denying our very existence. Trans women being targeted and killed in America, while Trump attempts to ban trans people from enrolling in the military. All you need to do it look on social media, it seems like we are under attack every week.

People are suffering, being bullied, beaten, tortured and even killed because of ignorance. We must do everything we can to help.

Even in countries where they seem to be equal on paper, the truth can be far from that. While we are very lucky with the rights we have in the UK, hate crimes and homophobia are on the rise. According to Stonewall, one in five LGBTQ people in the UK have experienced a hate crime related to their gender identity or sexual orientation in the last year. But unfortunately up to four in five go unreported, with younger people being particularly reluctant to go to the police.

It’s important to remember discrimination isn’t always a punch in the face, or being abused in the street. It can be governments restricting access to healthcare, denying fair and equal education, sexual health information, little or no access to benefits.

Social media has been a huge game changer in recent years. People come together from all over the world, creating a vast global network of activists, campaigners and organisations who actively support and fight for international human rights.

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights… It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to five people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk

On days like today we can all do our part in raising awareness and visibility. Just using your own voice and sharing your stories can help others. Countries all around the world look to the UK, US and more progressive nations. We have to exercise our rights and speak up for those that don’t have them, because we can. Too many people don’t have that luxury.

Let’s fight bigotry year round by challenging discrimination and inequality where it arises. Everyone deserves the right to feel proud of who they are.

Pride, equality and solidarity aren’t just marketing campaigns or phrases you shout in a parade. They’re part of a movement to create a safer world for our community to live in.

Until each and every single member of the global LGBTQ community is free to be themselves without fear of persecution, we march, we protest, and we shine a light on the injustices the global LGBTQ community face.

Follow Tom on Twitter – @TJ_Knight