World marks IDAHO with courage and pride

Activists defy anti-gay laws in Iran and Russia to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Activists in Iran, one of the most homophobic countries in the world, braved persecution today (17 May) by publicly unfurling a rainbow flag to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO).

Campaigners in the Muslim state’s capital Tehran also distributed leaflets and flew multi-colored balloons to raise awareness of LGBT rights.

It is just one of hundreds of creative and innovative activities happening in 95 countries around the world today in celebration of IDAHO.

From the US to the Philippines, LGBT people are making their voices heard, organizing everything from festivals to flashmobs.

In St Petersburg, Russia, activists defied the city’s anti-gay ‘propaganda’ law by holding a mass rally, marking 20 years since the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental illness.

The rally will take place between 7pm and 9pm in Petrovsky Park and is expected to attract around 300 people.

‘It remains to be seen what the police will do,’ Polina Savchenko of LGBT organization Coming Out, organizer of the event, said.

‘Whether they will act professionally and protect us like last year, or arrest us despite the official permit to hold the event.’

Rainbow flags have also been proudly fluttering in the wind over many prominent buildings in the UK, including Manchester Airport, 50 Merseyside companies and The Co-operative Group’s offices.

Throughout the day employees from across The Co-operative are raising awareness and celebrating the day by holding events including a rainbow balloon release at The Co-operative Food store in Galston, Scotland and employees wearing rainbow-themed clothing for the day in the People Services department in Manchester.

‘The Co-operative does not tolerate bullying and harassment on any grounds,’ Liz Bramley, head of employee engagement and diversity for The Co-operative said.

‘We are fully supportive of the events taking place throughout the world to recognize this important day.

‘Homophobia not only contradicts the values and principles upon which The Co-operative was founded, such as equality, it is also against the law at work.’

Fifty politicians and leaders from the European Parliament, including President of Europe Martin Schulz, have recorded a special video message telling LGBT teenagers that ‘it gets better’ in 17 different languages, from Italian to Bulgarian and Swedish to Polish.

The film is inspired by the American project It Gets Better, which aims to reduce self-harm and suicide attempts among LGBT young people.

View Video here

by Matthew Jenkin
Source – Gay Star News