IDAHOT 2024: freedom and equal rights in Europe

Together with the Council of Europe, the Netherlands is hosting the European IDAHOT+ Forum in The Hague from 14 to 16 May. The forum is an important conference on the position and human rights of LGBTIQ+ people. Her Majesty Queen Máxima will speak at the event, as will Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf and European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli. In addition, two European indexes will be presented that show how countries stand when it comes to human rights for LGBTIQ+ people. The forum will conclude on 16 May with Mr Dijkgraaf, Commissioner Dalli and guests from the event taking the Rainbow Express to Brussels for the subsequent EU conference.

Mr Dijkgraaf commented, ‘We are seeing that the acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people appears to have plateaued, while groups opposed to LGBTIQ+ equal rights are becoming more vocal. This is the case in the Netherlands and in other European countries, and I’m concerned. I believe that we must continue to advocate strongly to protect these fundamental human rights. Securing equal rights involves victories and setbacks – and it certainly doesn’t happen on its own. It demands continual attention and effort from individuals, EU member states, NGOs, public figures and society as a whole. Ultimately, you can measure a society by the extent to which it provides a safe space for all.’

Continuing to advocate for human rights

Mr Dijkgraaf believes it is significant that the Netherlands is hosting this year’s European IDAHOT+ Forum. Some nine out of ten people in the Netherlands support equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people. And yet we are seeing human rights for LGBTIQ+ people come under increasing pressure here and in many other places in Europe. This ranges from openly discriminatory legislation in some member states to the destruction of rainbow flags and monuments honouring LGBTIQ+ movements. The IDAHOT+ Forum is a place where governments and civil society organisations can share their experiences and exchange best practices concerning LGBTIQ+ policy. Two European human rights indexes for LGBTIQ+ people, namely the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe Map and Index and the TGEU Trans Rights Map, will be presented at the forum, making clear where some countries still have work to do. Lastly, participating countries will sign a ministerial declaration committing to protecting equal rights for LGBTIQ+ people and to maintaining and improving the social position and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people.

Rainbow Express to Brussels

Upon the conclusion of the event in The Hague and at the initiative of the Netherlands and the Belgian EU Presidency, the Rainbow Express train will depart from The Hague Holland Spoor station for Brussels. There the Belgian Presidency will take up the baton and, in follow-up to the forum in the Netherlands, on 17 May will host the EU conference Pride Alliances and Policy: Towards a Union for Equality. Mr Dijkgraaf will be aboard the Rainbow Express and will speak further in Brussels about the equal treatment of LGBTIQ+ people in the EU.

International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Exactly 34 years ago, on 17 May 1990, the World Health Organization decided to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder. Every year on 17 May the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) commemorates this and many activities are organised. In 2013 the Netherlands initiated the first edition of the European IDAHOT+ Forum. Since then, every year around this date a European country hosts the IDAHOT+ Forum, where policymakers, experts, human rights defenders and NGOs gather to discuss human rights for LGBTIQ+ people, ongoing developments in Europe in this area and how to work together more effectively to improve human rights for LGBTIQ+ people. This year the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is again hosting the event on behalf of the Netherlands, on 14, 15 and 16 May. The theme of this year’s forum is the future of freedom and equality in Europe. A detailed programme can be found here.