Statement on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

As your Director for LGBTQ2+ members on the PSAC Atlantic Regional Council, I will soon be joining many PSAC members within the Atlantic Provinces, across Canada, and people around the world in recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. I would like to invite you to join me on this day in celebrating our diversity and bringing attention to the fact that LGBTQ2+ rights are human rights.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia is recognized every year on May 17 with events taking place both nationally and internationally. This important date is used to promote human rights for the LGBTQ2+ community and is an opportunity to lobby officials to take action. In 2004, May 17 became a day to advocate for just public policy for LGBTQ2+ people. By 2016, the commemorations had taken place in 132 countries across the globe.

These countries celebrate May 17 and draw attention to the violence and discrimination that LGBTQ2+ people everywhere face.  The atrocities that are still happening around the world against the LGBTQ2+ community are horrific.  In some countries, members of LGBTQ2+ communities are prosecuted, thrown in jail, and even killed because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. In our own country and even in the Atlantic region, LGBTQ2+ members continue to face various forms of discrimination.

History: The importance of this date May 17 was labeled “Gay Day” a very long time ago in Germany and was written in the format of 17.5. It had a natural affinity with the Penal Code 175, the rule dealing with homosexuality (homosexuals were called “one hundred seventy fivers”). A Pink Triangle has been a symbol for various LGBTQ identities, initially intended as a badge of shame, but later reclaimed as a positive symbol of self-identity. In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, it began as one of Nazi concentration camp badges, distinguishing those imprisoned because they had been identified by authorities as gay men. In the 1970s, it was revived as a symbol of protest against homophobia, and since has been adopted by the larger LGBTQ community as a popular symbol of LGBTQ pride and the LGBTQ rights movement. In the 1990s, the pink triangle enclosed in a green circle came to be commonly used as a symbol identifying “safe spaces” for the LGBTQ+ people both at work or in schools. 

I feel with strength in numbers we can keep our communities safe. With COVD-19 becoming more endemic, it is ever so important that we do not stop advocating on behalf of our community. Pride celebrations in some communities will be held this year. As long as LGBTQ2+ members continue to face discrimination, we will continue to lobby and demand justice.

With pride and solidarity,
Wayne Kelley
PSAC Atlantic Director for LGBTQ2+ members