An impressive global program for the 7th edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is taking place around May 17th with hundreds of events planned in over 50 countries. The Day’s activities take place among growing international tensions between progressive developments and reactionary outbursts, including the now infamous Ugandan ‘anti-gay’ bill which again risks being passed in the Parliament this very week.
All over the world, thousands of activists are gearing up for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, also known by its acronym IDAHO. This year’s IDAHO will break records of mobilisation and outreach, as an estimated 50 million people will be exposed to campaign messages in about 50 countries, calling for an end to discrimination and violence against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Amongst many noteworthy events, organisations in 14 countries across Latin America will unite in a common campaign and unfold dozens of public activities to denounce the ‘Cures that Kill’, the so-called ‘therapies’ to supposedly ‘cure’ sexual and gender diversity, often driving people to suicide. This regional campaign has launched an appeal and invites citizens across the world to support this call online.
Other breaking news include the presence on May 17th of Lady Gaga as guest Editor in Chief in the 17 national editions of the free daily ‘Metro’; the organisation of activities in 12 cities across China and the mobilisation of the Japanese LGBT in solidarity with the victims of the recent catastrophes, to name but a few. Events will also be organised in places as critical as Iraq, Indonesia, Uganda or Sri Lanka, and other countries with strict criminal laws where activists need extreme courage and expose themselves to permanent death threats.
States, cities, corporations and institutions also mark the Day. The European Parliament will hold a series of events, while many United Nations agencies unfold a range of declarations, publications and events, including a landmark publication encapsulating the most prominent UN statements on sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights, which is being translated and disseminated in a vast range of local languages by campaigners around the world.
The IDAHO Committee, the organisation which launched the Day in 2005, expresses its enthusiasm at the range and diversity of the mobilisation. IDAHO Committee founder Louis-Georges Tin notes : “Croatia and Nepal will probably very soon join the list of the countries, which includes Brazil, Mexico, France, the UK the Netherlands, etc… which have recognised the Day officially, giving one more sign that the Day increasingly becomes a major annual focus for action at all levels. In France for example, 12 ministries take official action on the Day”. “It is very impressive to see such a wave of activism, ranging from huge national marches like in Brazil or Turkey, to small community events” says Joel Bedos, international coordinator for the IDAHO Committee, “but it is also badly needed. Despite some recent progressive developments, with the recognition of same-sex marriage in Argentina and Mexico as important landmarks, the global climate is still predominantly one of fear, hatred and violence against sexual and gender minorities.”
The Day’s celebrations indeed take place within a very tense international context, for example in Uganda, the ‘anti-gay’ bill now risks being passed by the Parliament in forthcoming days, in spite of outrage both from regional, national, and international stakeholders.
The IDAHO Committee organisers also note that the issue of Transphobia is increasingly being addressed both by organisations and institutions. Says Sophie Lichten, a lesbian Trans women and vice-chairperson of the IDAHO Committee: “We need to remind everyone that all over the world Trans people bear a particularly heavy burden of violence, with Trans people being killed every day, as a report by the Trans Murder Monitoring project to be released on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia uncovers.”
To react against ignorance and hate, one of the IDAHO Committee’s initiatives this year is to create a global community of people uniting to celebrate diversity in nature but unity in spirit. “We named this campaign ‘As I Am’. The idea is to invite individuals to submit testimonials, artwork, photos or videos on what makes them special and beautiful” says Ryan Ubuntu Olson, campaign manager. “We invite all decision makers in the media, the blogosphere or Facebook pages to spread the word and contribute to the success of the day and its campaigns worldwide”.
For more information on activities and campaigns : www.dayagainsthomophobia.org