The 7th annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is being marked today 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 was at risk of being passed by the country’s parliament last week.

This year, an estimated 50 million people will be exposed to IDAHO’s campaign messages, 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.

Other news includes 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 Japanese LGBT people in solidarity with the victims of the recent catastrophes.

Events will also be organised in places as critical as Iraq, Indonesia, Uganda and Sri Lanka, and other countries with strict criminal laws where activists need extreme courage and expose themselves to permanent death threats.

In South Africa, a number of national protests were held over the weekend ahead of IDAHO to highlight an epidemic of ‘corrective rape’ of lesbian women.

States, cities, corporations and institutions also mark the day. The European Parliament will hold a series of events, while many United Nations agencies will 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.

“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,” said IDAHO Committee founder Louis-Georges Tin.

“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 IDAHO Committee organisers also noted that the issue of Transphobia is increasingly being addressed both by organisations and institutions.

Says Sophie Lichten, a lesbian Trans woman 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.”

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”.

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