International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Montréal

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on May 16, 2022.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was initiated by the Montréal-based non-profit organization Fondation Émergence and is held on May 17 each year. For this 20th edition, the focus is on the impact of homophobia and transphobia on the life expectancy of the LGBTQ+ communities.

Raising awareness

May 17 is a symbolic date: on this day in 1990, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia raises awareness of the impacts of phobias related to the LGBTQ+ communities and encourages governments to take action to recognize the rights of these communities.

This day is now observed in more than 130 countries around the world, and there is now a global movement lobbying the United Nations to officially recognize May 17 as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Shocking statistics

Fondation Émergence works against homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia through various awareness programs. The Foundation reports:

  • 4,042 trans people were murdered around the world between January 1, 2008 and September 30, 2021.
  • 23% of trans people in the United States have avoided seeking health services out of fear of discrimination or mistreatment.
  • Young lesbian, gay and bisexual people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
  • Transgender women are nearly three times more likely to die at a younger age than cisgender women.

Life expectancy

For this 20th edition of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the focus is on the impact of homophobia and transphobia on the life expectancy of the LGBTQ+ communities.

“What we’ve noticed is that the accumulation of different types of violence can reduce the life expectancy of LGBTQ+ people who suffer them,” says Fondation Émergence president Patrick Desmarais.

In Canada, 39% of LGBTQ+ people have reported experiencing violence because of their sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions, according to a survey conducted by Léger and commissioned by Fondation Émergence.

According to the study, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. LGBTQ+ people are also three times more likely to experience sexual assault. Furthermore, Fondation Émergence reports that 111 countries have no laws protecting these communities from any form of discrimination, and only 11 nations prohibit conversion therapies.

Caution: this video contains sensitive subject matter.

The 54-second watch

To illustrate this issue in their 2022 campaign, Fondation Émergence has created a symbolic 54-second watch.

The campaign’s official website states, “Across the world, violence reduces the life expectancy of the LGBTQ+ people. To represent this stolen time, we created the 54-Second Watch, one second missing from every minute for each of the six colours of the pride flag. When minutes last 54 seconds, time goes faster, years get shorter and lives end too soon.”

Fondation Émergence states each second less also represents the six types of violence suffered by LGBTQ+ people: physical, psychological, sexual, economic, institutional and medical.

Educational materials

Over the years, Fondation Émergence campaign materials have been available in 20 languages, and for this year’s edition of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, the Montréal-based Foundation is distributing French and English posters to schools throughout Quebec.

 

Visit the bilingual Fondation Émergence website to order free educational posters and leaflets.

Visit 54-secondwatch.com for information about the 54-Second Watch campaign observing the 2022 edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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