Remember Me Research Fellow, Dr Louis Bailey highlights the importance of recognising and confronting discrimination
Today (May 17th) marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The day raises awareness of the ongoing stigma and discrimination that is directed towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people worldwide, and to highlight the urgent need for equal human rights at an international level. It ‘represents an annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms’ (http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/). The date was chosen to commemorate the decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness on May 17th, 1990. In the UK, Gender Dysphoria – which was, until recently, known as Gender Identity Disorder – is still treated within psychiatry even though it is no longer regarded as a mental health condition.
There is still much work to be done to tackle violence and discrimination towards those from sexual and gender minority communities:
- Last month, Amnesty International called for ‘urgent action’ to be taken in Chechnya after reports that of over 100 men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and killed (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur46/6023/2017/en/)
- The creation of (Non Government Organisations) NGOs focusing on LGBT issues is forbidden in 25 countries (http://ilga.org/downloads/2017/ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2017_WEB.pdf)
- Consensual sex with someone of the same sex is still illegal in 72 countries and is punishable by death in 13 countries (http://ilga.org/downloads/2017/ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2017_WEB.pdf)
- There have been 2,016 reported killings of trans and gender variant people across 65 countries between 2008 and 2015 (Trans Murder Monitoring Project, http://tgeu.org/tmm/). These are just the ones we know about – the figure is likely to be much higher!
The ‘Remember Me’ project is currently conducting the first ever research into Trans People and Memorialisation in the strand ‘Who Were They’ – exploring the ways in which trans and gender variant people are remembered and commemorated after death. This important research, which is being led by Dr Louis Bailey will feed into wider conversations about how to ensure dignity and respect for trans people both in life and after death and, as part of this, to increase awareness of gender identity and diversity.
Dr Louis Bailey is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the Remember Me project, leading the Case Study ‘Who Were They? Trans Identities and Memorialisation’ Louis has a special interest in issues around gender identity and variance and has worked with and for the trans community for a number of years.