Obama Celebrates International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

A gay couple hugs in front of the White House lightened in the rainbow colors in Washington on June 26. 2015.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is recognizing May 17 as International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, urging people around the world to respect lesbians, gays, and transsexuals.

“In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House “All nations and all communities can, and must, do better.”

Obama celebrated the recent political gains by the LGBT community, but urged the world to unite against the various phobias around their behavior.

Obama boasted of his administration’s commitment to advancing LGBT issues and celebrated the cultural changes that occurred during his presidency, citing the Supreme Court decision recognizing gay marriage.

“Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world,” Obama said.

The Obama administration recently released a rule ordering school administrators to allow students of either sex to use the bathroom of their choice, in order to combat transphobia.

“We’re talking about kids,” Obama said, defending his administration’s decision to release the new rule. He argued that lesbian, gay, or transgender students “subject to a lot of bullying” because of their identities and were “vulnerable.”

“I think it’s part of our obligation as a society to make sure everybody is treated fairly and our kids are all loved and protected,” he said.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was created in 2004 by activists on May 17 in memory of the decision by the World Health Organization decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.