Established in 2004, the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia seeks to raise global awareness of the discrimination which many millions of people continue to suffer simply on the grounds of their sexual orientation. It falls on May 17 – the date in 1990 when the World Health Organisation finally removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
The world has come a long way since then. But demolishing prejudice can rarely be achieved overnight, and in many parts of the world, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia are widespread and deeply entrenched.
Many campaigners argue that the keys to changing discriminatory attitudes towards sexual minorities are education and availability of positive role models. But for all the good they do, approaches based upon the raising of consciousness are increasingly having to confront a very powerful and, in many cases, seemingly intractable opponent: religion.
Prejudice based on religious belief is far harder to shift than the more conventional folkloric attitudes that have long provided shaky and unstable support to widespread homophobia.