Sunday May the 17th 2020 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, better known as IDAHOT. This day provides an opportunity to highlight the inequalities that people still experience because of their sexual orientation in several countries around the world. It is important to remember that marriage for people of the same sex is only allowed in a handful of countries and that people claiming a different sexual orientation still risk the death penalty in too many countries. It is a sad anniversary this year because exactly 30 years ago the WHO removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses.

In the world of work, every staff member should feel valued and has the right to be themselves, regardless of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the workplace can still be a place of mockery and even violence (at all levels: psychological but also physical) for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. A third of them consider that revealing one’s sexual identity to one’s professional entourage can have an impact on one’s career.

The theme of this IDAHOT 2020 campaign is “Breaking the Silence”. In order to fight for a workplace that is more inclusive and respects the diversity of its staff it is essential to create debate and give a voice to LGBTI members in every European institution. Without their views and feelings, it is impossible to create a safe and fair working environment for all. It is therefore important that they participate at the table for inclusive and fair working conditions for all.

Union Syndicale, as an organisation defending the rights of ALL staff members, regardless of their sexual orientation, supports LGBTI workers in the European public service. We recall that, as a trade union, and this is reflected in our actions, we seek to create inclusive professional spaces, where diversity is recognised as a strength and not as a difference. Moreover, Union Syndicale has made harassment (of whatever kind) one of its many demands.

If you would like to know more about it, here is some additional information:

Article “Same-Sex Marriage: Global Comparisons” – Council on Foreign Relations, October 2019.

World Survey about sexual orientation laws , ILGA, December 2019.

Report from FRA, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Article “Most Employees Feel Authentic at Work, but It Can Take a While“, Harvard Business Review, May 2016.