Africa / Asia / Middle East / North Africa

Ready to celebrate May 17 (IDAHOT) despite dangers

Text version of world map (Graphic courtesy of IDAHOT)

Text version of world map that’s used by IDAHOT

Activists in some of the world’s 76-plus countries with anti-LGBTI laws are preparing to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17.

The event, billed as a worldwide celebration of sexual and gender diversity, commemorates the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization officially removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.  In the past, IDAHOT has been celebrated in more than 130 countries, including 37 where same-sex intimacy is illegal, organizers say. Celebrations are organized locally by activists in each country, so they can make their own evaluations of potential risks. In past years, IDAHOT events in homophobic countries sometimes proceed without problems, but sometimes attract violent anti-gay protesters, such as occurred in Kyrgyzstan in 2015 and in Russia in 2014.

These are IDAHOT organizers’ descriptions of some of the activities already planned in countries with anti-LGBTI laws:

Rainbow-colored balloons were a prominent feature of IDAHOT celebrations in Russia this year. (Photo courtesy of the Russian LGBT Network)

Rainbow-colored balloons were a prominent feature of IDAHOT celebrations in Russia in 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Russian LGBT Network)

In Singapore GBQ men’s group SGRainbow will mark the day with a range of events leading up to May 17, including a nature bike ride and a number of events designed to promote equality and build communities for young LGBT individuals.

In Tunisia, feminist activists have announced the Second edition of CHOUFTOUHONNA, Tunis’ International Feminist Art Festival, which will feature performances and exhibitions focused on the experiences of LBT women.

The second annual Pride celebration for sex workers and LGBTI Ugandans on May 16 was sponsored by the grassroots anti-HIV, pro-LGBT Youth on Rock Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Frank Kamya)

The second annual Pride celebration for sex workers and LGBTI Ugandans on May 16, 2015, was sponsored by the grassroots anti-HIV, pro-LGBT Youth on Rock Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Frank Kamya)

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Suncity Africa Foundation and the Central Initiative for Transgender, Young Gay, Lesbian and Asylum Seekers (CITY GLASS) will host Refugee Pride, a two-day event aimed at celebrating diversity and progress within the LGBTI community. The event hopes to help campaigners and asylum-seekers raise awareness of their needs, whilst also reflecting on the shared difficulties faced across the local community.  The date will also see the launch of CITY GLASS’s annual report, which will address the situation of young LGBTI refugees living in Kenya and the broader region.

In Myanmar, the best photos of a special IDAHOT competition will be displayed as part of the “&Proud” photo exhibition from May 7 to 15 alongside some of the best photos of LGBT subjects in the ASEAN region.

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