|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
1.5 billion people currently live under laws that criminalize same-sex relationships. Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) From United Nations conferences to outlawed demonstrations, hundreds of events are taking place on all continents. 95 countries around the world have seen activists develop actions around May 17.
Only a few days ago, President Obama made international headlines by announcing his support for same-sex marriage, and sent a signal of hope and pride to millions of people around the world. Almost at the same time, the Argentinean Senate passed the world's most progressive law on gender identity, allowing people to choose their gender identity without the need for gender reassignment surgery, among other progress.
But while progress in some areas is unfolding, millions of people worldwide are still being denied their basic human rights. Their right to assembly where LGBT organization are outlawed, their right to speech where 'gay gag' laws forbid any reference to homosexuality, their right to health, where discriminatory regulations don't allow fair access to medical services, their right to housing, education, to a family life, and so on; Even their right to life, in the 7 countries where the death penalty can apply for consensual adult same-sex relationships.
As hundreds of organizations around the world mobilize to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), the IDAHO Committee has calculated that the number of people living in the 76 countries which criminalize same-sex relationships totals 1.5 billion.
Today, on May 17, activists nevertheless stand up in the face of these human rights abuses and take action. In Algeria, Bangladesh, Botwana, Uganda or Cameroon, activists mobilize in extremely hostile contexts and the Day often offers the framework for first-ever 'LGBT' events. This year, Burma and Botswana become part of the 95 countries where events mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
In countries where legal dispositions are more favorable, activists unleash their creativity and organize arts contests, songwriting competitions, public sessions to 'vaccinate against homophobia'.
In the meantime, international organizations mobilize to support the cause.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay released a video message ahead of the day. Other UN agencies like UNDP, UNAIDS or WHO also mark the day with conferences and declarations. The Pan American office of the World Health Organisation releases a groundbreaking report condemning so-called 'conversion' therapies. In Paris, UNESCO organizes on the eve of IDAHO a day-long international conference on homophobic bullying, as part of the international mobilization on this theme coordinated by the IDAHO Committee.
High level political personalities also often join the mobilization at national level, like in Cuba, where President Castro's daughter Mariela leads the annual national IDAHO march.
For all the latest IDAHO news, visit the IDAHO website at http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
International : Joel Bedos (English, French, German) + 33 664715921
Robbie Garner (English) + 63 9184354582 (English)
Latin America : Jandira Queiroz (Spanish, Portuguese, English) + 55 21 81163791 - Fernando D'Elio (Spanish, English) + 54 11 3462 0664; USA: Ryan Olson + 1 303 5878126 (English)