The Egmont Palace illuminated in the rainbow colors for IDAHOT

In 2004, May 17th was declared International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). In honor of this day, the Egmont Palace in Brussels will be illuminated in the colors of the rainbow flag from Sunday, May 16 to Tuesday, May 18. "This is a first for the Egmont Palace and our way of showing our commitment, with the Belgian foreign policy, to diversity and equality for all, without discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation. This freedom to be and to love whoever one wishes must be universal and we are working on it."

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès 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. Our country prides itself in groundbreaking and ever-evolving legislation.

In recent decades, protection for LGBTI persons has steadily expanded. Yet, in numerous places around the world, LGBTI persons face severe forms of discrimination, harassment, violence and death threats. This may show that in some places there is regression, including in Europe. Therefore, continued attention to legal and policy reforms remains necessary to pursue equal treatment and protection for all LGBTI persons. Combating all forms of discrimination, including racism and anti-LGBTI discrimination, is one of Belgium's key cross-cutting human rights priorities.

IDAHOT's theme in 2021 is “Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing”, highlighting at once the challenges we face and the opportunities that arise. Indeed, it underscores the need to remain steadfast in resisting homophobia, we need to keep showing support for persons that are being discriminated against, and we need to seize the momentum of recovery following the COVID19 pandemic to create more inclusive and just societies. As other categories of people which can be victims of discrimination, LGBTI persons are disproportionately confronted with prejudice and stigma and therefore depend a lot on social circles for moral support and resilience. The pandemic has been a difficult time as the restrictive measures instituted to slow the spread of the virus have limited social interactions.

Being vocal about LGBTI rights signals that our commitment to equal treatment remains undiminished. In both bilateral contacts and international fora, Belgium will continue to work for the universal respect for human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We want to show that we care about the plight of every person, we want to signal that we are there to continue to make this point.

You can follow the news from Belgian embassies and diplomatic posts abroad on social networks, to see how this important day is celebrated around the world. #IDAHOT #IDAHOT2021 #loveislove #freeandequal #EU4LGBTI