In Britain, according to Stonewall “nearly one in five lesbian and gay people, almost 350,000 employees in Britain, have experienced bullying from their colleagues because of their sexual orientation.” Other numbers coming from Australia say that 52.8% of the participants of the servey “have been the subject of harassment or discrimination in their current employment. ” Now these’s are definitely not the most homophobic countries in the world which means we have a problem here.
That is why this year’s campaign of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia focuses on the workplace where discrimination against lgbtqi still exists on a large scale. Imagine, not being able to mention your partner to your colleagues, not brining him or her to the events and most of all not being yourself and constantly scared of verbal and physical attacks and discrimination. The campaign sponsered by the Fondation Émergence, however, does not focus on these issues but rather tries to “point out the positive aspects of sexual diversity in the workplace as well as its benefits for employers, companies, institutions and workers alike.” How is that? Besides the general truth that an accepting and tolerant atmosphere is good for creativity research also “shows that homophobia in the workplace can lead to lower productivity, undermine people in sexual minority groups and impede their full potential at work.”
Integration is the key – at least until our societies are ready to have found a balance of living together with mutual understanding and esteem. Until then: “A positive work environment happens through positive attitudes. The worst enemy is still indifference. Saying nothing, seeing nothing and doing nothing. This indifference usually comes when people are uncomfortable with the sexual orientation of workers and it prevents closer relationships and full integration.”
May 17 is not just a random day. “It is a symbolic date. On May 17, 1990 the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses.” Only in 1990 you think? That is why homophobia is still stronger than you and I can imagine. The Inernational Day against Homophobia and Transphobia was born in Quebec in 2003. So this is already the 10th edition. Every year has been dedicated to a different topic. In 2007 for example “Sexual orientation is not a choice” and in 2010 “Speaking about Silence – Homophobia in the Sports World”. This year promotes diversity at the workplace, how about yours? Today is your chance to play your part: get to know your lgbtqi workmates and stand up against homophobia.