Thursday, 17 May is International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. It is a day to support the LGBTI community by showing our appreciation of the positive contribution they bring to society, and stand together against harassment and discrimination.
Homophobia, biphobia, intersexism and transphobia, can be described as the invalidation of, oppression towards, irrational fear, aversion to, discrimination against, negatives attitudes and feelings towards people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender. Although many laws exist to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the LGBTI community continues to endure discrimination and hate.
So how can you help your friends, family, colleagues and community? This IDAHOBIT let’s stand together against discrimination and prejudice, and use some simple strategies which encourage equality and inclusiveness.
- Challenge homophobic, biphobic, intersexism and transphobic language and behaviors.
The term ‘gay’ is sometimes used in a negative or derogatory way like “work is gay” or “that’s gay”. Although often perceived as harmless, the negative meanings of the statement can have an impact on a LGBTI person’s mental health. When it is safe, challenge these statements, and notify the person using them that this language is unacceptable and offensive to others whether or not they are aware if it.
Show your support and raise awareness by participating in awareness days and events like IDAHOBIT, Wear it Purple day (31 August) and pride festivals. Awareness days provide the perfect opportunity to educate friends, family and colleagues on the continuing issues faced by the LGBTI community, talk positively about sexual diversity, and remind people that negative remarks about a person’s gender and sexuality are offensive and unacceptable.
- Avoid assumptions
Assuming that a person is ‘straight’ can have an impact on a LGBTI person, as it may show them that their gender diversity is not accepted or normal. Challenge assumptions by not assuming that you know someone’s sexuality based on how they look or behave, and avoid asking questions like “do you have a boyfriend” to women and “do you have a girlfriend” to men. Instead, be more inclusive by asking non-gender specific questions like “do you have a partner”, “what gender pro-noun do you prefer” and “what is your preferred name”. This change in terminology and avoidance of assumptions can help people from the LGBTI community feel more comfortable, safe and included.
- Offer support
If a person is experiencing harassment and discrimination, it is important to show the person that they are supported and the behaviour towards them is not acceptable. Report harassment or bullying in the workplace or school, demonstrate that it will not be tolerated, and that they are important to the community, their feelings are valid and that they can ask and receive support when needed.
- Support at Relationships Australia NT
Relationships Australia NT provides a welcoming and accessible service to people who identify as LGBTI and/or gender diverse. Our service is culturally appropriate, supportive and respectful to the needs of the local LGBTI and gender diverse community.
This year on IDAHOBIT, stand up to show your support and celebrate our communities’ strength, resilience and diversity. Take the pledge to support your LGBTI friends, family, colleagues and community, stand against harassment and discrimination, never stay silent when discrimination is occurring, speak up against bullying and never be a bystander.
If you would like more information on the experiences of discrimination and mental health difficulties of the LGBTI community please see the following resources.
- Beyond Blue; “In my Shoes: experiences of discrimination, depression and anxiety among gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people; http://resources.beyondblue.org.au/prism/file?token=BL/1013
- National LGBTI Health Alliance; “LGBTI People: Mental Health & Suicide”; https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/bw0258-lgbti-mental-health-and-suicide-2013-2nd-edition.pdf?sfvrsn=2
- Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society; “Private Lives 2: The second national survey of the health and wellbeing of GLBT Australians”; https://www.glhv.org.au/sites/default/files/PrivateLives2Report.pdf
Relationships Australia NT can provide counselling, psycho-social support, family support, dispute resolution, relationship education, and a range of other services to the NT community, both urban and remote. We employ experienced and qualified professional staff to provide support to individuals, couples and families to enhance, maintain or where necessary, manage changes in their relationships. For more information on the services we provide and how we can help contact us on (08) 8923 499 or visit www.nt.relationships.org.au.