17 May Against Homophobia

The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has undertaken to act as the UK co-ordinator of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) due to take place on 17 May 2005. The significance of 17 May is that on this date in 1990 the General Assembly of the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The event is the brainchild of French gay activist Louis-Georges Tin, editor of the Dictionnaire de l’Homophobie (Presses Universitaires de France 2003) and it is has the support of the International Lesbian and Gay Assocition (ILGA), the Coalition of African Lesbians, the European Association of Human Rights, the European Green Party, the Intergroup of the European Parliament on Gay and Lesbian Rights, the International Federation of Human Rights, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, the Socialist Group of the European Parliament and the World Congress of LGBT Jews.

It is hoped to mark 17 May annually in an attempt to gain international recognition of LGBT people, especially in the many countries where homosexuality is still taboo. Louis-George Tin said: “It should make it possible to show that the fight against homophobia is not only the business of LGBT people but the full responsibility of public authorities and the will of the whole of society”.

GALHA chairperson, Derek Lennard, said: “Although much progress has been achieved in recent years, homophobia still exists in the UK. Violent homophobic attacks are still common, persecution still continues at work as the recent case of the persecution of a gay man in a city bank illustrates, and there are horrific stories about the treatment of gay asylum seekers. We should also be aware that the situation is critical in many other countries, notably Muslim ones, in which homosexual acts are forbidden by law and incur horrendous penalities.”

GALHA is urging LGBT people in the UK to sign the IDAHO petition by going to www.petitiononline.com/idaho. It is also holding a special meeting to mark IDAHO at 7.30 pm on Friday 20 May at London’s Conway Hall (for details please see www.galha.org).