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May 17th. – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – (IDAHO)

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is celebrated every May 17th and  is coordinated by the Paris-based “IDAHO Committee,” founded and presided by French academic Louis-Georges Tin.

The day aims to coordinate international events to garner support for the respect of lesbians, gay and transgender rights worldwide.

The idea of the Day was launched in 2004. The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders in 1990.

By May 17, 2005, as a result of a year-long campaigning effort, 24,000 people worldwide, and well-known international organizations like ILGA, IGLHRC, the World Congress of LGBT Jews, the Coalition of African Lesbians, had signed the appeal to support the IDAHO initiative..

Organizations in more than 70 countries in the world now include the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia as part of their annual mobilization plan. In some of them, the Day has become the major focal point of action.

IDAHO has now been officially recognized by the EU Parliament, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Brazil. It is also recognized by numerous local authorities across the world, such as the province of Quebec or the city of Buenos Aires.


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.

Do your part.  Please stand up and speak out against Homophobia and Transphobia wherever and whenever you see it.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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