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LGBT identities and relationships have roots in early human civilization

In only 13 days thousands of advocates and LGBT allies form around the world will celebrate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in an attempt to draw the attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBT people internationally.

As part of GLAAD's Global Voices program, which works to accelerate LGBT acceptance across the globe, GLAAD will participate and celebrate IDAHOT together with thousands of diverse groups and individuals.

4.7 billion people live under regimes that restrict free expression of sexual and gender rights.

Today, 70% of the world population live under regimes that restrict LGBT rights. A significant portion of those build their arguments against the LGBT community on the myth that homosexuality is a Western import. The reality is that LGBT identities and relationships have roots as deep as that of human civilization.

Native American Great Plains Tribes viewed gender on a spectrum from male to female, including transgender and intersex persons who were considered to have special spiritual significance.

In Albania, women identified as burnesha, who take a chastity vow at young age, can live as man and assume traditional male roles in society and their family.

In Russia, the indigenous Chukchi people in Siberia identified seven genders in addition to male and female.

In Samoa, fa'afafine are a third-gendered people who are mostly born biologically male, but have gender expressions and identities that embody both masculine and feminine behavior.

In Korea, songs and poems from the ancient Silla dynasty spoke of affection among men, especially among a group of elite male warriors, the hwarang, who were known to form same sex relationships.

In Ancient Greece, male homosexuality was an accepted phenomenon, practiced by high-status individuals. The poet Sappho wrote about her affection and desire for other women. The philosopher Plato spoke of a third sex, which was both male and female, as part of original human nature.

All of these examples show how gender and sexuality have always existed on a greater scale than just the socially constructed binaries. While certain advancements have been made for the LGBT community all around the world, we must work as a community to make sure more and more changes continue be made for the 70% of the world's population that still face restrictions based on the gender or sexuality.

This work can be seen today, as Ireland and the United States continue the fight for marriage equality. It is up to us as a community to work for everyone to have equal rights under the law, and to eliminate LGBT discrimination all over the world.

About GLAAD

GLAAD amplifies the voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, see www.glaad.org, www.facebook.com/glaad, www.twitter.com/glaad and www.glaad.tumblr.com.