International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biophobia: Awareness Day

CEA have been an integral part of providing support to individuals in custody at HMP & YOI Polmont for the past seven years. In addition to a range of group awareness courses, we deliver 1 to 1 support sessions to witnesses and survivors of domestic violence, as well as those who identify having controlling behaviours in their relationships. We were originally set up as Falkirk woman’s aid in 1976, however, we now operate as CEA and provide to inclusive support to individuals of all ages, beliefs, ethnicities, faiths, genders, sexual orientations, and races.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia takes place on the 17th of May each year and is a worldwide celebration of gender and sexual diversity, as well as a campaign against the violence and discrimination that people from the LGBT community face. Every year there is a different theme for the event and this year the theme is ‘Our bodies, our lives, our rights’; which celebrates the free expression of gender and sexuality. CEA recognises that domestic abuse does not discriminate; people in the LGBT community are just as likely to experience domestic violence as anyone else. However, there can be additional barriers for this community that discourage them from coming forward and seeking support. For example, stereotypes surrounding gender and sexuality, a lack of inclusive support and fear of not being accepted. In order to demonstrate our support as an ally service for the LGBTQ+ community, CEA decided to take part in IDAHOBIT by organising an event within HMP & YOI Polmont.

Planning The Event
Our plan for the event was to set up a stall displaying artwork created by people in custody and information about International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. We invited those who wished to submit artwork to CEA or the Community Safety Unit, showcasing what IDAHOBIT means to them. We communicated this by posting event packs to every individual in custody. Additionally, we created a radio show with the help of the media centre and one of our LGBTQ+ service users. The show was broadcast on several occasions throughout the establishment on the weeks leading up to the 17th of May. One of the key messages that we tried to communicate was that you did not have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to show your support for the event. We encouraged participation from anyone who wanted to support or learn about the LGBTQ+ community. Furthermore, the event was not only for those in custody to attend. We also sent out an email to all the staff across the establishment to let them know that they were welcome to come along.

The Event
On the 17th of May 2022, we ran an all-day stall in a communal area for everyone to be provided with a chance to see the fantastic artwork that we had received from individuals in custody and to learn more about International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. We were delighted to see such a significant amount of support for the LGBTQ+ community from prisoners, staff, and senior management. The event allowed people to come together and discuss the significance of IDAHOBIT and what it means to them. Through conversation with staff and prisoners it became apparent to our team that this was the first LGBTQ+ event to take place within HMP & YOI Polmont. Individuals of the LGBTQ+ community expressed the importance of feeling recognized and supported within the establishment, as often they feel unable to talk about their gender and sexual identity. Additionally, some of the individuals in custody expressed that they would be interested in taking part in a monthly drop-in group for LGBTQ+ prisoners. This is something we have taken on board and are now looking to facilitate. Those who participated in the event were given a rainbow wristband to thank them for support of IDAHOBIT. Our hope is that individuals will continue to wear the wristbands and show their support for the LGBTQ+ community throughout the month of Pride in June. As an organisation, we intend to continue hosting an event for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on an annual basis.

After the event we handed out evaluation forms to those who attended. Below are some quotes from the completed evaluations.

More support and awareness needed as it was clear that many people did not know about or understand LBGTQ+

SPS Officer

It was a chance to express myself and meet other LGBTQ+ people

Young Person in Custody

It gave me a voice and gave me a community that now feels like home

Young Person in Custody

The wristband gave us a conversation starter

Young Person in Custody

CEA would like to thank everyone who supported International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia within HMP & YOI Polmont.