International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

17 May 2021


As violence against transgender people surges and states pass anti-trans legislation – including bans on gender-affirming medical care such as hormone therapy and surgery – marking the day as one that brings attention to the discrimination the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex) community faces is as urgent as ever.

No one should live in fear of being targeted simply because of who they are. Yet LGBTQI people are rejected, criminalized and condemned to endure assaults on human rights for living their truth and exercising bodily autonomy. The day is observed on 17 May because it was the day the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1990.  
From mental health to sexually transmitted disease to cancer to substance abuse, the LGBTQI community is vulnerable to dismal health outcomes for a number of reasons including a lack of access to medical and social services – unfortunately all too common among marginalized groups. 

To commemorate the day, artist Leo Mateus illustrated transgender women we have covered over the years, including (from left) transgender people and sex workers rights activist Lila Milic, LGBTQI activist in Kyrgyz Indigo Ayim and community organizer and activist in Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals in Botswana (LEGABIBO) Nelly Thobega.

UNFPA works to ensure sexual and reproductive rights and choices for all, irrespective of sexual and gender orientation, identity, expression or characteristics. Human dignity is a right that should be denied to no one.  

Related content

How is menstruation related to human rights? When does menstruation start? What are common myths and taboos about menstruation? What is period poverty?
”I have never been loved or respected by anyone in my life except a few early years by my mother,” said Shohan, a transgender woman living in Dhaka who left her family when she was 11. Her experience is not exceptional in this country, where despite the fact that transgender...
Growing up, Bill didn’t have anywhere to go to about the confusion she felt about her gender identity. In secondary school, classmates used to taunt her feminine mannerisms, calling her “sissy” and “kathoey” (“ladyboy”). “People could see who I was, but not many of them...


We use cookies and other identifiers to help improve your online experience. By using our website you agree to this. To learn more, including how to change your settings, see our cookies policy.