For its 7th edition, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was celebrated on May 17th 2011 with hundreds of events taking place all around the world and on every continent.
From important statements by international artists, organizations and institutions to mass street protests and publications of groundbreaking reports, the events around the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia have once again displayed the strength, the creativity, the boldness and the diversity of the global fight to end violence, discrimination and stigmatization of people on the ground of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.
The IDAHO Committee, the organization promoting the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia worldwide, has received communications about events in over 70 countries across the world. This year, several countries saw their first 'IDAHO' celebrations, countries like Burkina Faso, Fiji or Trinidad and Tobago. The Day was also marked by a strong increase in mobilization levels in several countries, and specifically in the United States of America where many local organizations, for the first time, used the Day as an opportunity for campaigning, mobilization, outreach or lobbying. In other countries, the Day has been confirmed as a major national annual landmark with activities taking place on an ever increasing scale, often uniting hundreds of events and making it to generalized media headlines, such as in Brazil, France, the UK, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Italy, etc...
Across Asia and the Pacific, an increasing number of organizations saw the Day as a useful and relevant opportunity to link their local demands into a global context of mobilization for equal rights. The level of activism has kept increasing in countries like Nepal, China, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines or Thailand. Even in more hostile contexts, such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, the Day has provided space to engage in dialogue, increase awareness, develop acceptance and harness support from allies. Organizations across the region also rallied to call onto the World Health Organization to commit renewed energy to see that national health institutions implement the decision taken in 1990 to stop classifying homosexuality as a mental condition.
2011 was a special year for Latin America, where on top of the traditional very high level of activism on the Day, the regional 'Cures that Kill' campaign, united dozens of LGBTQI organizations in 14 countries to Human Rights, Women's Rights and other social justice groups to denounce the so called 'conversion therapies' which develop across the region with the insidious proposal to 'cure' sexual orientations or gender identities that do not correspond to 'official' standards. The Cures that Kill campaign generated marches, protests, conferences, artistic events and many other events across these 14 countries.
In Africa, activists in countries like Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Cameroon, Nigeria, or Burkina Faso, where both authorities and the social climate are very hostile, displayed immense courage and determination to organize events that included public conferences, radio debates, artistic performances and community gatherings.
In Eastern Europe, the Day was once again marked by severe homophobic and transphobic attitudes, with attacks on activists in Montenegro and Belarus and the announcement of Moscow authorities to once again ban the Pride march.
But this year's 'IDAHO' was also marked by increased statements of support at the highest levels, with the European Institutions and the United Nations agencies confirming their commitment to making the Day an important annual landmark. At EU level, all institutions, except the Hungarian-chaired Council of the European Union, marked the day with speeches, conferences, exhibitions, etc... The United Nations issued several high level statements, including from Michel Sidibé (UNAIDS), Rebecca Grynspan (UNAIDS) and Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose office published a groundbreaking brochure which encapsulated the most significant public declarations against homophobia and Transphobia from the most senior UN officials. Thanks to the amazing work of local activists and the support from the IDAHO Committee with funds from HIVOS and the Arcus foundation, this brochure has been translated, edited and produced in many local languages to support mobilization actions on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Other groundbreaking publications that were issued on the Day include the update of the ILGA world report on State-sponsored homophobia, the ILGA Europe's Rainbow Map and Index, or the report of the Trans Murder Monitoring Project.
This year, the Day has also been characterized but a strong presence on social networks, with nearly a hundred pages, groups and events set up specifically for 'IDAHO' actions and events.
Last but not least, the global free daily paper METRO marked the Day in all its 19 national editions, distributed to 17 million people, with a full two-pages on Human rights and LGBT people, an initiative that was part of a much noticed special edition edited by pop star Lady Gaga. Many other international artists tweeted or mentioned the Day on their Facebook pages, or participated in specific IDAHO events, concerts, video projects, fundraising initiatives, etc... Some specific artistic projects, like the 'Walk with Pride' global exhibition were developed, signaling a potential future development of such international initiatives, for which the Day provides a particularly good opportunity.
With reports from media coverage coming in from 50 countries, the IDAHO Committee estimates that the Day has provided the opportunity to reach out to close to 50 million people worldwide.
Information and contacts on all the above initiatives, and many more, can be found at www.dayagainsthomophobia.org