The Not a Criminal campaign statement for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia 2023

May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) — a day to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people, and all those of diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions, and sex characteristics.

Today, the Not A Criminal campaign partners join together to recognise the diversity, beauty, and power of LGBTQIA+ people around the world. We celebrate the resilience and strength of LGBTQIA+ communities. We honour the countless activists and advocates who have fought for LGBTQIA+ rights and paved the way for progress.

Today, we also think about all those who have faced isolation, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual and/or gender diversity. We recognise the intersectional discrimination that LGBTQIA+ people face — including at the intersections of sexuality, gender, race, disability, age, nationality, economic status, religion, and other identities.   

We are concerned that the global “anti-gender movement” has grown in scale and visibility over the past decade. They are creating and spreading deliberately misleading information and manipulative, dehumanizing narratives aimed at restricting and retracting LGBTQIA+ rights. Many governments are doing little to counter or limit their influence.    

We are deeply concerned that 62 countries still criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts in law, and that six countries permit punishment with the death penalty. We are concerned that transgender people are particularly vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and harassment by law enforcement officers. We acknowledge that many LGBTQIA+ people are at increased risk of criminalisation due to their HIV-positive status, profession and/or economic status, migration status, and/or drug use. Criminalisation places LGBTQIA+ people, people living with HIV, sex workers, people who use drugs, and migrants at increased risk of violence and abuse. It increases stigma and discrimination, and results in vastly disproportionate sentences. Criminalisation of same-sex sexual acts, HIV-positive status, sex work, and drug use also obstructs access to social services and healthcare and undermines the HIV response.       

At this time, we must highlight the retrogressive legislative and law enforcement initiatives being advanced against LGBTQIA+ people in several countries of Africa, including Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya. We are hopeful to see progressive advancements in countries such as Singapore, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados which have decriminalised consensual same-sex acts; Cuba, Slovenia, Chile, Switzerland, and Mexico which have recognised marriage equality; and Moldova which now recognises sexuality and gender identity as grounds of discrimination. Just this week, Namibian Supreme Court ruled that government must recognise the unions of same-sex couples who married in countries where it was legal for them to do so — a major step towards equality. In Brazil, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Human Rights will today announce that the country will be joining the Global Partnership for Action to Eliminate All Forms of HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination, seeking to advance the human rights of all, especially LGBTQIA+ people. So while conservative and anti-gender movements continue to create division, reinforce stigma, encourage violence, and support criminal punishment for gender and sexual diversity, LGBTQIA+ equality gains continue too.

On this IDAHOBIT, we come together in all of our diversity, to support our LGBTQIA+ loved ones, colleagues, and communities. We uplift the voices of LGBTQIA+ individuals who face additional barriers, such as racism, ableism, and poverty. We pay tribute to the courageous advocacy of grassroots human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and civil society organisations to defend the rights of LGBTQIA+ people worldwide.

We call on funders, international institutions, and United Nations agencies to support organisations and movements working to counter anti-gender opposition, misinformation, and radicalisation, increase the capacity and safety of LGBTQIA+ communities, and build intersectional cross-movement alliances. We further call on you to leverage your positions of influence to compel governments to decriminalise same-sex sexual acts.

Finally, we urge countries to decriminalise consensual same-sex relations and to introduce or amend legislation in order to protect LGBTQIA+ people from all forms of discrimination and increase the safe participation of LGBTQIA+ persons in all aspects of our societies.

We are not criminals. We reaffirm our right to live free from discrimination, violence, and punitive criminal laws. United in our diversity, we will continue to raise awareness and advocate for a world that promotes equality, justice, and health for all.

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Not A Criminal

The Not A Criminal campaign is a partnership between HIV and Key Populations global networks — GNP+, HIV Justice Network, Y+ Global, ICW Global, GATE, NSWP, INPUD & MPACT Global Action. The campaign seeks to mobilise multifaceted community action to hold governments, legislators, and policymakers accountable to their global commitments to ensure access to health and respect human rights. Learn more at