May 17 - International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Homosexuality is still illegal in 77 countries around the world, and in seven countries women, men and children are punished for their sexuality with death sentences.

Ottawa (17 May 2011) – May 17 is recognized as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, a day to both continue the work for equality and to celebrate the contributions made by gays and lesbians to society.

The 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is urging union members and the general public to stand in solidarity with lesbians, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities and reaffirm our on-going fight against homophobia and transphobia.

This day provides an opportunity to make a powerful statement to demand improvement for the quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people around the world. Use this day to raise awareness of homophobic issues that are negatively impacting on people’s lives and showcase stories where a positive change has been achieved.

Homosexuality is still illegal in 77 countries around the world and in seven countries women, men and children are punished for their sexuality with death sentences. Until 1969, it was a crime to be gay in Canada.

Earlier this year in Uganda, David Kato, a gay rights campaigner who sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual, was beaten to death. The Ugandan parliament recently attempted to re-introduce an anti-homosexuality bill that could sentence LGBT Ugandans to death for 'aggravated homosexuality'. There has been mass international lobbying against the bill - which has now been dropped.

NUPGE National President James Clancy said, “While unions have successfully campaigned for equal rights for LGBT people in the Canada, around the world the situation is sadly very different. In many countries LGBT people face harassment, intimidation, violence, ostracism, hate crimes - and even death, just because of their sexuality.”

May 17 was chosen to mark the Day because it was on this date that the World Health Organization finally removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. The Day was originally organized in 2003 by the Quebec group Fondation Émergence, which was soon successful at elevating it to the international level.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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