17 May, International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

date: 17 May 2013

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders applauds tomorrow’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, 17 May. He considers the fight against homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia as a priority for Belgian foreign policy. Just like other forms of discrimination and intolerance such as racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, homophobia also has serious, sometimes devastating effects on the victims’ lives. Homosexuality is still a criminal offence in almost eighty countries all over the world and the rights of LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) are violated in even more countries.
17 May is a symbolic date for the fight against homophobia. On 17 May 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, which put an end to over a century of medical homophobia.

The Minister draws attention to Belgian efforts to promote the protection of LGBT persons. In January, Belgium launched its first federal campaign against homophobic and transphobic violence. On 17 May, the inter-federal homo/transphobia action plan will be presented. This summer, from 31 July to 11 August, the World Outgames will be held in Antwerp. Thousands of athletes will gather there from all over the world during the gay community’s championships. Antwerp becomes the third city to welcome the World Outgames. A socio-cultural element will be added to this sporting event, including a conference on LGBT rights.

Didier Reynders points out that Belgium approved the law on same-sex marriage ten years ago. In doing so, Belgium became the second country in the world to recognise gay marriage. Our country wants to continue to be a pioneer in the fight against homophobia. Belgian diplomacy also actively promotes and protects LGBT rights, in and outside the EU and at international forums. Our country is a member of the LGBT core group in Geneva. This group appeals to countries and international organisations for the general decriminalisation of homosexuality and transidentity. LGBT issues are an integral part of Belgium’s interventions during the Universal Periodic Reviews of the UN Human Rights Council. Minister Reynders guarantees that Foreign Affairs will continue to proactively cooperate in initiatives by the EU, as well as in international forums and throughout the world.