Some reflections on #IDAHOBIT

Today is the annual International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia as we saw from Team INtogether’s post earlier.

The party has been marking the day in various ways. We’ve been tweeting up a storm. Liz Barker and Jonny Oates recorded this video:

There’s been a series of lovely graphics:

Norman Lamb has resubmitted his motion calling for people who want gender neutral passports to be able to have them. Recently, I saw on social media a teacher who has transgender and non binary pupils under their care object to these proposals. Imagine how that makes their pupils feel and how confident they would feel about that teacher to support them. That brings me to what’s been happening north of the border.

Willie Rennie took time out of his short-lived campaign to be First Minister to emphasise the need for all teachers in all schools – that’s the denominational ones, too – to be trained to ensure that all Scotland’s schools are inclusive environments for learning.

He said:

Improving education on LGBTI issues is vital to ensuring that we can build on the progress that we have made as a society and tackle the inequalities that LGBTI people still face.

This is about people like me, and others of my generation, who grew up at a time when sexuality was not really a topic for discussion at the dinner table. And crucially, it is also about working with teachers and schools to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination and educating the next generation – whether they are gay, straight, bi, trans or anything else. Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for reform during the election but they do not go far enough.

Education is the key to delivering the sort of change that will ensure that in future, young LGBTI people do not face the same discrimination that has shamed our country in years gone by.

As we reported last month, all of Scotland’s party leaders represented in the Scottish Parliament support a change in the law to make the process of expressing your gender identity much easier. Recently, Government Minister Humza Yousaf suggested that the consultation process for this would begin within the next year. This is a very, very good thing. However, it strikes me that during that necessary period of consultation, and indeed as the Bill goes through Parliament, we’re going to see some pretty nasty stuff from opponents of the legislation. They pulled no punches when the equal marriage legislation was going through, spouting nonsense about how it would lead to people wanting to marry their dogs and the like. This is incredibly hurtful to people. If they try to throw the same sort of bile around over these proposals, it is so important that we all have the backs of our transgender and non binary siblings. It’s even more important that we make sure that people who may be struggling with identity issues know that they have thousands of allies standing with them against the hatred directed at them. I am sure that the excellent LGBTI organisations in Scotland such as the Equality Network and Stonewall will already have thought about this and will have a plan to deal with it.

Bearing in mind that Scotland is one of the best places in the world to be LGBTI, and we still have to think about combating damaging levels of homo, bi and trans phobia, we should also spare a thought for the many, many places in the world where people face persecution and imprisonment because of their sexuality and gender identity. I hope that the Department for International Development will be continuing the projects started by Lynne Featherstone and Lindsay Northover when they were in Government.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Thanks for using the right hashtag, Caron. Means a lot.

  • Eddie Sammmon 17th May '16 - 10:58pm

    I think the idea for gender neutral passports and driving licences for those who want them are great, but I don’t agree with Maria Miller’s proposal to make everyone have them. Gender can help with identification. Plus, many want to make clear what gender they are.

  • Jenny Barnes 18th May '16 - 9:16am

    Many make their gender clear by such things as length of hair, choice of clothes, makeup and so on. Why the state has to determine one’s gender is a puzzle.
    It reminds me of the apartheid days in South Africa, when everyone had to have blanke or nie-blanke designations. You could always tell whether someone was a nie-blanke by whether their hair would hold a pencil…

  • “Norman Lamb has resubmitted his motion calling for people who want gender neutral passports to be able to have them.”

    Passports are already gender-neutral in the sense that they don’t contain any information on gender at all. A passport shows the holder’s sex, which is something different. Norman Lamb should perhaps educate himself on the difference, since his EDM is very badly worded.

    “…we’re going to see some pretty nasty stuff from opponents of the [new gender recognition] legislation… If they try to throw the same sort of bile around over these proposals, it is so important that we all have the backs of our transgender and non binary siblings.”

    While you are no doubt correct that there will be some nasty stuff flying around, and this needs to be countered, on the other hand I think it’s important for all people in this consultation to recognise that there are actually some difficult issues around this, and it’s not a simple case of “if you don’t agree 100% with self-declaration then you’re a bile-filled bigot”. Many trans people themselves have objections to some aspects of self-recognition, or indeed reject the whole idea. Those voices need to be heard and respected as well.

    For instance, Britain’s first (and as far as I know only) trans Parliamentarian, former MEP Nikki Sinclaire, believes that while the GRA should be loosened, a free-for-all in self-declaration would do more harm than good. See :-

  • George Potter 18th May '16 - 12:57pm

    I still think it’s pretty disgusting that originally HQs tweet’s deliberately omitted #IDAHOBIT in favour of #IDAHOT2016 – not because it wasn’t aware that today was also about biphobia but because #IDAHOT2016 was more popular.

    So for party HQ even giving a nod to the existence of biphobia was too much to ask if omitting it meant their tweets got seen by slightly more people.

    They may have deleted their tweets when hauled up on it and then started using the correct hashtag but it’s still despicable that they were willing to make that “trade off” in the first place.

  • George Potter 18th May '16 - 12:59pm

    It’s also a shame that LDV didn’t mention this in the article – especially since this isn’t meant to be the party Pravda.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th May '16 - 1:10pm

    Or, alternatively, George, HQ listened to representations and altered their approach. It’s always a good thing when people learn and act differently in the future. We can’t all be perfect – and the willingness to adapt is something that should be welcomed, not slated.

    I must apologise, George, for not knowing the content of every HQ deleted tweet. Clearly I am useless.

  • What a strange squabble over hashtags. It looks like the “official” Twitter feed for the day happily used #IDAHOT2016, and their website often dispenses with the T and just refers to their organisation as “IDAHO”. No insult intended to anybody, I’m sure.

    Soemtimes these days people take offence far too readily.

  • George Potter 18th May '16 - 4:31pm


    HQ shouldn’t *need* to be asked to remember that opposing biphobia is more important than a few extra tweet views.


    Yes, the “official” twitter feed ignored the biphobia aspect of the day. Which is, of course, part and parcel of the typical bi-erasure that helps perpetuate biphobia.

  • @George
    No, the Twitter feed in question had numerous references to the Bi aspect of the day. I was going to count them but soon gave up as there were so many of them.

    I’m afraid your comments really do come across as looking for offence where none was intended or ought reasonably to have been taken. The following explanation comes from the IDAHOT website and it all seems perfectly sensible to me. Pay particular attention to the note at end – what they are saying, quite rightly, is that when you’re dealing with a global movement, what is an appropriate acronym in one country might not be so in another :-

    May 17 was first known as the “International Day against Homophobia” and mainstreamed through its acronym “I.DA.HO”
    In 2009, Transphobia was added explicitly in the title of the name, in the recognition of the very different issues at stake between sexual orientation and gender expression. “IDAHOT” became another popular acronym used alongside the initial one.
    Since 2015, biphobia is added to the title, to acknowledge the specific issues faced by bisexual people.

    At the level of our Committee, we have kept the acronym ‘IDAHOT’, which we’ve been consolidating for years. We acknowledge this is an imperfect solution, but a necessity for communications consistency. We totally support other organisations who adapt the name of the day to their contexts and their priorities. In the UK for example, the Day is increasingly known as IDAHOBiT*, in Latin America Lesbophobia is almost systematically included and placed first, etc…

    *Consultations on the name with activists in 120 countries have concluded that the reference to hobbits might be clever for some parts of the world, but were seen elsewhere as an imposition of Western values. In many places where people are facing daily life threats, this proposal was considered highly inappropriate.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th May '16 - 1:52am

    I have a phobia to outrageous and bigoted nonsense , which all deep rooted prejudiced attitudes are !

    Agree with Stuart above , we need to embrace discussion on all new ideas , especially on things where there is no one fixed view , even amongst those for whom these are apposite and vital .The sort of attitude problem of the so called no platform types is often as bad as those they do not want to debate with.We are not like that.

    These new plans are not to all trans gender campaigners liking because when someone has been trapped for years, and been to hell, and got out of it through a process that culminates in surgery or hormonal courses, not only do they not want to be rejected verbally by the Germaine Greers of this world , but do not feel as much of a journey has been travelled by someone not going through all that ,who can self identify overnight.

    We do not want to trivialise the debate by having a make it up as you go along approach.I favour all these changes, but the friendly disscussion about the how and when these things happen, is something we must be prepared for and , to have..

  • @George Potter
    That’s not actually correct. The Bi-aspect was referenced numerous times on the official Twitter feed on the day.

    The organiser’s website contains a lengthy explanation of why the “official” acronym is what it is :-

    In a nutshell: as a global movement they have to go with the majority, and apparently they consulted “activists in 120 countries” and found that many of them (in places where LGBT people fear for their lives) were offended by what they saw as a jokey “Hobbit” reference in #IDAHOBIT. Hence the standard global hashtag leaves the Hobbit bit out, but people in the UK and elsewhere are encouraged to still use it if they prefer. No offence intended to anybody.

  • The official website is international in scope; I note that use of the hashtags has quite some “regional” variation. Much of the UK goes for IDAHOBIT rather than IDAHOT because we have a comparatively strong bi strand to our LGBT organising & campaigning.

  • Helen Tedcastle 19th May '16 - 12:34pm

    I agree with Stuart on this.

    It is the sex of a person that is asked for on a British passport, not gender.

    According to an expert on genetics and inheritance from the Francis Crick Institute, there are two biological sexes, male and female. He said this on the Today programme the other day in a discussion about young children and ‘gender identity.’

    ‘ … looking for offence where none was intended or ought reasonably to have been taken.’

    This is the problem with this debate. If you challenge or question the agenda, those who are looking to be offended or opportunities to use the ‘b-g-t’ word will do so, the aim being to shut down dissent.

  • Apologies for the two posts – the first was stuck in moderation for over 12 hours so I thought it was a goner.

  • George Potter 19th May '16 - 3:08pm

    Then that “expert” is wrong Helen given the wealth of evidence that there are plenty of people who don’t have XX or XY chromosone patterns.

  • “an expert on genetics and inheritance from the Francis Crick Institute”

    No doubt followed by an expert on geology from the Flat Earth Society.

  • Helen Tedcastle 21st May '16 - 1:28pm


    On the existence of XX and XY and the SRY gene in determining male or female destiny see in the embryo:

    The scientist interviewed in Today was Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Francis Crick Institute, a pioneer in identifying the role of the SRY gene. He pointed out there was insufficient evidence for biological determination over against social-psychological conditioning and individual preferences.

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