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Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia: the situation in Italy

May 17th is the International Day against this type of discrimination

Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia: the situation in Italy May 17th is the International Day against this type of discrimination

May 17 marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. It was established in 2005 after a long campaign led by Louis-George Tin and strongly supported by LGBT+ movements, which advocated for it by organizing activities and loudly demanding initiatives from governments and international organizations. This observance has evolved over the years: in 2009, transphobia was added to its name, and in 2015, biphobia was included. The date was not chosen by chance; it commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. This occasion aims to raise awareness against all forms of discrimination based on gender and sexual preferences. It also serves as an opportunity to reflect on the situation in Italy, which, unfortunately, is not very positive.

Homophobia: Meaning and Situation in Italy

June is approaching, the month of LGBT pride that annually colors cities across Italy with its parades and themed activities. However, the data is not encouraging. The project, which documents and tracks incidents of homophobia throughout Italy, has recorded 1,744 victims since its inception in 2013. Of these, 158 were recorded in the past year. Gay Help Line - which collects data in collaboration with the Oscad Observatory of the Ministry of the Interior and operates a helpline supporting victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender - received 21,000 contacts in 2022. Italy is consistently falling in the rankings and indexes that examine and analyze policies and initiatives supporting LGBT+ individuals.

Transphobia Today

According to data from Gay Help Line, the situation worsens when focusing specifically on trans people, who are the most affected by this type of discrimination. They account for 14.7% of the helpline's contacts, with a majority being young people and adolescents. Of all cases, 41.6% experience family violence following a coming out. In 5.7% of cases, these incidents lead young people (aged 11 to 26) to drop out of school. Only 1 in 5 trans students in Italy have requested and obtained the alias career path, which allows them to use alternative pronouns and a different name. Additionally, 17% of those who contacted Gay Help Line lost financial support from their families following their coming out. Moreover, data from the Associazione Transgenere ACET for 2022 and from TGEU confirm that Italy is the leading European country in terms of transphobic crimes. This is evident in all areas, including work. A complaint in this regard was made today by Roberta Parigiani, a trans activist and political spokesperson for the Movimento Identità Trans, who wrote on Instagram: "Today we celebrate something that concerns everyone, but some more than others. The day against homolesbobitransphobia claims a liberation that has never happened for trans people. In fact, today, our trans community suffers the resurgence of the deep-seated transphobia that certain cisgender societies have harbored. Nothing explodes today: it is the fruition of the constant poisoning with which certain ideologies have tainted our culture. There is nothing to celebrate today. And if there is, it is certainly not for the trans community."

What is Biphobia?

While homophobia (which some studies consider an umbrella term encompassing all the others) and transphobia are documented and measurable, biphobia often goes unnoticed and is not well understood by most people. There is a lot of confusion: bisexuality is often conflated with polygamy or polyamory, it is assumed that a bisexual person wants multiple partners at once or is incapable of commitment, and this identity is diminished by thinking it is just a phase of experimentation that will pass. This is a subtle and seemingly non-violent form of discrimination that effectively erases this identity, diminishing it and hindering public discourse on the subject, causing significant harm to those who identify as bisexual or would like to.

Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia: What Can We Do?

These and many other data - which we haven't included here for the sake of brevity and accessibility but can be found everywhere: on Instagram, in official reports, and on the websites of associations protecting these categories - all say the same thing: we have a problem and a long way to go, in Italy and worldwide. As usual, change starts small and from the ground up, but it needs to expand to society, to the community, and to the collective. From our interactions with neighbors to how we express ourselves - in public squares, in schools, at the polls, in associations and grassroots groups, in any way we see fit - everything must and can change, and it needs our help and our initiative.

If you have been or are a victim of discrimination, contact the Gay Help Line toll-free number, your local Arcigay office, or the Telefono Amico Cassero, who are ready to provide you with assistance and support.