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Today, it is exactly 30 years since the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. Since 2004, May 17th has been International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), a day on which sexual diversity is celebrated, but also a day to draw attention to discrimination and violence against the LGBTI community.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin underlines the pioneering role that Belgium continues to play internationally in the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sexual characteristics. In the Rainbow index comparing the legal framework for LGBTI rights between 49 European countries, Belgium comes again out on top, ranking second. Our country has groundbreaking and ever-evolving legislation, such as the recent gender law which focuses on respect and self-determination of transgender people and de-medicalizes gender identity. At the beginning of the year, the law was amended to criminalize discrimination against intersex people based on gender characteristics.
IDAHOT’s theme this year is “breaking the silence”, specifically chosen to break the stigma surrounding homosexuality around the word and to give hope to those who suffer from this stigma. “Against the backdrop of the COVID19 pandemic, the theme is all the more relevant”, emphasizes Minister Goffin. “Numerous events such as gay pride parades and festivals have been canceled and a significant portion of the world’s population lived or still lives under some form of quarantine. In many places, this exposes vulnerable people from the LGBTI community to intimidation or aggression, including via social media, while social contacts within the community – already far from obvious everywhere – are seriously disrupted by quarantine measures”.
Breaking the silence is therefore essential. Speaking about LGBTI rights, signals that the commitment to equal treatment remains undiminished. In both bilateral contacts and international fora, Belgium will continue to work for the worldwide respect for human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
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