DC Reinventing Hub

Reinventing support in the workplace: International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

At Delta Capita, we do everything we can to create a safe and inclusive environment for all staff, which includes supporting our LGBTQIA+ colleagues. As International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia approaches, Erik Zetterberg, Associate, looks at the day's history and what it means.


Erik made the shift from a career in Education to Finance three years ago, being involved in compliance work.

Erik Zetterberg

On the 17th of May every year International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia celebrates how far LGBTQIA+ rights have come and acknowledges how much work still needs to be done.

The World Health Organisation stopped classifying homosexuality as a disease on 17/05/1990. Then in 2004, international gay rights organisations adopted the date as the annual International Day Against Homophobia, aiming to raise awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

In 2009, the name was expanded to International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHBT) and, as it has continued to grow, the day now spans over 130 countries.

In recent years, there has been progress in many countries towards greater acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people, including legal recognition of same-sex marriage and greater protections against discrimination. However, there are ongoing struggles for LGBTQIA+ rights in certain countries.

Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia (HBT) persist in many parts of the world - for example, in the form of the Club Q shooting in 2016, threats against hospitals that offer gender-affirming care, and anti-gay and trans laws in many countries. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Tavistock Clinic ended gender-affirming care for trans youth following a critical report last summer. Alternatives have been promised but have yet to materialise, leaving trans-youth without publicly available support.

What can we do about HBT phobias?

The most immediate thing you can do to tackle HBT phobias is to learn and build empathy. Reputable bodies like the NHS, the American Psychological Association, and the World Health Organisation provide trustworthy material on gender and sexuality.

Transgender celebrities like Laverne Cox, Elliot Page and Jamie Clayton and many others have all discussed their experiences in every media format.

Another important thing you can do is speak up. When most people stand silently on the sidelines, that can reinforce the idea that HBT phobias have the approval of the silent majority. Speaking up and consistently pushing back shatters that illusion and can make all the difference. So don’t stand by because you’re not the one hurting, act to help others feel safe.

One reason for such phobias is fear of social contagion. But if being transgender is a social contagion, so is being left-handed. As left-handedness stopped being taboo in the early 20th century, the number of left-handed people rose from 3% to 12% in the US. With no threat of ostracisation harm, people are more comfortable being themselves.

Being transgender is not a trend or fad - we have evidence of alternative gender identities existing for centuries. For example, being two-spirit is an example in several Native American cultures.

How to tackle HBT phobias in the workplace

Discouraging these phobias in the workplace is an important step towards creating a safe and inclusive environment for all employees. This can be supported in the following ways:

  • Set clear expectations, including workplace policies and conduct codes that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 
  • Provide training to highlight the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. This can help employees understand what homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are and how to avoid them.
  • Lead by example, by modelling inclusive behaviour and language. Use inclusive pronouns and avoid making assumptions about people's sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Act swiftly to address incidents of homophobia - this can include investigating and taking appropriate disciplinary action.
  • Create a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion - encourage open communication, celebrate diversity, and provide resources and support for employees experiencing discrimination.

Support from Delta Capita

We want all our colleagues to feel included, whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity, background or beliefs. We encourage staff to spend time on causes they believe in or identify with; cultural and religious practices; and on their physical and mental well-being too.

Employees that feel supported in such ways generally feel healthier, more contented, and have more sense of belonging and engagement at work.

Find out more by watching this video about Delta Capita’s support for LGBTQIA+ colleagues; and read about our Pride initiatives. If you work for us, you can even join our Pride Committee!