Jesuit Social Services staff have gathered to acknowledge and celebrate the experiences and contributions of the LGBTIQA+ community, marking the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia with in-person events across multiple offices.

The day commemorates the anniversary of the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to remove homosexuality from its disease classification, and raises awareness of the ongoing work needed to combat discrimination and to ensure LGBTIQA+ people live happy, fulfilling lives.

staff at IDAHOBIT event

Jesuit Social Services staff, including CEO Julie Edwards (back row, third from right) celebrate IDAHOBIT 2022.

Staff at Jesuit Social Services’ central office in Richmond watched a video produced by youth advocacy organisation Minus18, which tells the story of a young person named Nevo, who grew up knowing the sex assigned to them at birth did not match who they knew they truly were.

In the video, Nevo said transitioning to live in their true gender identity was not only what they needed to survive, but to live a meaningful life supporting others.

“I think it’s important that transition is recognised as not a choice,” said Nevo.

“For me, at least, if it was a choice, I’d save a lot of money and buy a nice car instead. But this is what I need to survive and be happy and live my life to its full potential. As soon as I can stop thinking about myself and stop being as paranoid and anxious about all this as I am, I can start living more for other people, so that’s really important for me.”

Following the screening, Jesuit Social Services staff were invited to reflect on the practical ways we can all ensure our workplaces are safe and supportive environments for LGBTIQA+ colleagues.

“Hearing Nevo tell their story was an important reminder that we don’t have to fit into the regimented boxes and stereotypes of gender identity that exist in our society,” said Maeve Elrington, a Policy, Research and Advocacy Officer who coordinates the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA).

“As Nevo said, we’re human-shaped – not boxed-shaped!”

Staff at Jesuit Social Services’ Richmond central office, including The Men’s Project Marketing and Communications Officer, Ted Ferreras (centre) and Executive Director of Programs, Sally Parnell (second from right) at the IDAHOBIT morning tea following Nevo’s film screening.

Primary Prevention Senior Educator and Coordinator, Drew Hanger, who works with men and boys on The Men’s Project, said Nevo’s story was a timely reminder of the value of living freely.

“Nevo reminded us of the importance of allowing people the freedom to show up as their authentic selves,” he said.

“Nevo was eloquent and inspiring as they shared their journey to live freely and be themselves; it saved their life.”

Jesuit Social Services’ IDAHOBIT commemoration was organised in conjunction with the working group leading our Rainbow Tick accreditation – a stringent, world-first quality framework to help community organisations deliver safe and inclusive practices and services for the LGBTIQA+ community. Jesuit Social Services affirms and celebrates the LGBTIQA+ community as part of our efforts to ensure a fair and equal society for all.