Following other initiatives such as the National Day Against Homophobia created in 2003 by the Foundation Emergence in the Quebec province of Canada and celebrated in June, Louis-Georges Tin–a French university lecturer, campaigner for Black and LGBT Rights and chief editor of the Dictionary of Homophobia–launched in August 2004 an initiative to create an International Day Against Homophobia that is global in scope. He made an appeal for universal recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) and proposed that this day be fixed on May 17th, to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders.
By May 17th 2005, as a result of a year-long campaigning effort, 24000 people worldwide and reputed international organisations like ILGA, IGLHRC, the World Congress of LGBT Jews, the Coalition of African lesbians, to name but a few, had signed the “IDAHO appeal”. In May 2005 already, the IDAHO saw some activities take place in many countries in the world. The first LGBT events ever were organised in the Congo, China and Bulgaria. Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament made a statement supporting the IDAHO and invited Tin to the conference the EU Parliament organised for IDAHO 2006.
By that time a new campaign had been launched calling for a universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, and by May 17th 2006 it had attracted support from several Nobel Prize winners (Desmond Tutu, Amartya Sen, Elfriede Jelinek, Dario Fo, José Saramago), artists (Merryl Streep, Cindy Lauper, Elton John, David Bowie), intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Bernard-Henri Lévy), NGOs (ILGA, FIDH), and politicians.
For IDAHO 2006, the IDAHO Committee and GayRussia co-organised the first GayPride in Moscow, preceded by an International IDAHO conference that brought together many activists, organisations and politicians from around Europe and North America. In July 2006, thanks to the efforts of Foundation Emergence, the Montreal Conference on LGBT Human Rights, organised in the wake of the Outgames, included in its Declaration of Montreal a strong recommendation to all Governments to recognise May 17th as the International Day Against Homophobia.
Arguments for taking action on IDAHO:
In 2010, regional workshops were held in Asia and Latin America, to reflect on the added value of taking action on IDAHO.
Some of the arguments that were highlighted :
Provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to demand political attention from policy makers. It aims at giving organizations an opportunity to call on to their political leaders or any other influential people/institution.
Generates mainstream social attention and allows messages to get out to constituencies that are outside of the “usual” LGBT/Human Rights circles. It may therefore increase the public campaigning potential around LGBT issues, including through the mobilization of social networks.
Attracts increased media attention on the issue of homo/transphobia and provide a key moment in the year to go public and talk to the media.
Encourages LGBT organizations to engage in activities that spread over different countries and regions, bringing together organizations in different countries and world regions. Beyond single actions, it aims at helping to build perennial alliances.
Generates actions from constituencies who are not specifically focused on the fight for LGBT rights but who join the concern to fight hate crimes and violence.
Download the two reports here.
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